The Story of the US Inland Waterway System

The development of transportation systems in the United States was strongly interwoven with the Inland Waterway System. Hauling freight by barge or ship can be far more economical per ton of cargo moved. It has the disadvantages of slow speed and limited access. Only destinations on a canal or coast are reachable. Today we depend heavily on the highway system and the trucking industry which uses it. In earlier decades we depended just as heavily on the Inland Waterway System. And in the future, with consistently high gasoline prices, the balance may shift decisively towards high fuel economy per unit of cargo moved. In which case, we may find the good old waterways once again supporting us long after the gas thirsty trucks have come and gone.

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