Wet Highway

The Mississippi River is an active highway. Find a viewing spot from St. Paul, MN to New Orleans, LA and it won’t take long until a tow of barges comes past.

One small, powerful boat controls nine, twelve, or even fifteen barges at a time on the upper portions of the river. Below the entrance of the Ohio, you may find larger tows, depending on the shipping company and the expertise of the individual boat skipper.

While grain and coal are the most common barged items you’ll find on the river they are not the only ones present. Water is an efficient method to transport all sorts of heavy, bulky goods from one river port to another.

Pleasure craft abound on the river in the summer — wise fishermen stay out of the marked shipping channel. And all craft, from full barges to a single canoeist use the locks at the frequent dams north of St. Louis.


Four barges carrying enough sand for thousands of backyard sandboxes.