The Ice Harbor in Dubuque, Iowa, has a long and interesting history. Originally, the river there was a maze of peninsulas, sloughs, islands and bayous that prevented river traffic from accessing the city. But planning and dredging created a winter harbor so 50 barges and 20 steamboats could be protected from the ice. It also allowed easier transport of goods from the river to the railroads.
As its name suggests, the area became an ice harvesting site as well as a place where residents enjoyed ice skating. It also developed into a significant shipbuilding location, as the Iowa Iron Works and later the Dubuque Boat & Boiler Works settled there.
Flood gates were constructed for the harbor mouth in 1973 to protect the area, and that encouraged both private and public interests to locate more facilities there, including the Diamond Jo Casino and the award-winning National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. There’s also the Grand Harbor Resort and Water Park, Grand River Center conference and event center, the Art on the River public sculpture exhibit, the Historic Dubuque Shot Tower, the Mississippi River Walk, the restored Dubuque Star Brewing Company, the floating Ice Harbor Galley restaurant and other developments.
Now, boaters have a great way to access those attractions as well as downtown Dubuque. Officially opening this spring is the new Port of Dubuque Marina, with 70 transient slips. Forty-six of those are 30-foot; 20 are 40-foot slips; and four are 50-foot slips. There’s also water, fuel, electricity and pump-out facilities.
On land, an amenities building houses restrooms and dockside shower suites, a laundry facility, management offices and a ships store. Besides selling boat-related items, the store has convenience goods and tourist destination information. Notably, the entire facility is universally accessible, with ADA-compliant access gangways.
The city’s plan is to offer direct boating access to the numerous attractions, lodging, dining, shopping and amenities the Port and City of Dubuque have to offer by providing recreational boaters with a first-class, state-of-the-art facility.
Hours (anticipated at time of writing): 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday to Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Fuel: Non-ethanol unleaded gas and diesel.
Transient Docking: Seventy slips total up to 50 feet in length. Universally accessible, with ADA-compliant access gangways.
Depth of Harbor: Seven feet minimum. Harbor protected by flood gates when the river reaches 16 feet.
Monitors: Channel 16
Electricity/Water: 20- and 50-amp service; water at all slips.
Amenities: 3,000 square foot amenities/service building with restrooms and dockside shower suites, laundry facility and ships store. Store has marine-related products, convenience goods, informational kiosk and tourist destination information.
Getting there by water: On the northern shore of the Ice Harbor, UMRM 579.4, RDB.
Getting there by land: From U.S. Highway 61, exit onto White Street toward the Port of Dubuque. Turn right onto E. 5th Street, then take the third right onto Bell Street. Go to the end and turn left.