"The vast granite walls which have stood for years, rugged and wildly picturesque, a great and inspiring example of the handwork of God, are being smoothed away by the kiss of the hammer and the marvelous power of the explosives".
SF Press, November 20, 1907
You are standing near what was once the Lower Falls. Look at the photograph to the left to imagine your view if the Lower falls were still here.
Originally, there were three series of falls within Falls Park. The Upper Falls and Main Falls still exist. However, by 1913, the Lower Falls were eliminated. First, quarrying companies mined the Sioux Quartzite rocks and boulders for building stone and street pavers. In 1912, the remaining rock was removed to improve the flow of water for the hydroelectric plant.
Elimination o the Lower Falls was just one of many changes made to the Big Sioux River's course by industries. Creation of the mill pond dam and elimination of the river channel around the west side of Seney Island were other changes to the river that were made to benefit the Queen Bee Mill and Sioux Falls Light & Power.
The Lower Falls were a popular place to pose for photographs. In the Back ground above the falls, you can see the roof of the hydroelectric plant and the seven-story Queen Bee Mill.
series of photographs shows the steps taken to remove the lower Falls for the Hydroelectric plant. Today, the high retaining walls are gone, but the narrowed channel remains. Notice how much wider today's river is just downstream of the hydroelectric plant - downstream the Big Sioux River is at its natural width.
Beginning of demolition of the lower Falls, July 6, 1912.
Blasting the Lower Falls for the hydroelectric plant tailrace, Nov. 20, 1912.
Tailrace complete, Feb. 18, 1913.