Our thoughts turn to those living along the nation’s riverways as news of rising waters and extensive flooding are coming in from all over the Midwest and East Coast. The inland and intercoastal waterway as an important transportation highway then comes to mind, a highway on which hundreds of millions of tons of cargo move annually valued at over $75 billion. Much of this cargo is moved in barges—non self-propelled vessels—much like rail cars for the waterway system. Barges are tied together and moved through the system by tow boats. Barges are the most energy efficient way to move things. On a ton-mile per gallon basis, (miles per gallon carrying one ton of cargo) trucks get 155 miles, rail transport gets 413 miles and inland towing gets 576 miles per gallon.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2008
Market size: 32,052 barges
Source: “TABLE 2: Summary of the United States Flag Passenger and Cargo Vessels Operating or Availalble for Operation by Year,” Watreborne Transporation of the Untied States, November 16, 2009, available online here. For more links to interesting reports on barges and water transporation, see our new blog’s post from today where the source note is more extensive, here.
Original Source: U.S. Army Corp of Engineers


2 Responses to “Barges”

  1. John Magee Says:

    I saw a truly amazing sight on the Weather Channel this morning. In the midst of a report about the disastrous flooding in Memphis, there went a tugboat and a barge chug-chugging upstream as if there was nary a problem.

    I had read previously that there had been navigation closures because of the flooding, but I guess they were more limited than I had thought.

    • The Editors Says:

      Yes, part of the beauty of barging is the fact that they float and can keep on keeping on right through high water. Well, they can between locks. But, it is the closure of locks that tend to shut down sections of the river for transportation services during floods.

      We’ve moved to a new location. Be sure and join us there!

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