University of Illinois Extension

River Dollars and Sense

A barge can carry 1,500 tons and carries the same load as 58 large semi trucks. One tow of 15 barges carries the same load as 870 semi trucks or as a train 2.75 miles long. One gallon of fuel will carry one ton of cargo 514 miles by inland barge compared to 202 miles by rail and 59 miles by truck. Each year more than 245 million tons -- that's 490,000,000,000 pounds -- of cargo is shipped to and from Illinois on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. It would take 9,400,000 trucks on our highways to move the same cargo. Under normal conditions, the river helps business. But there are times when the river hurts business. Now you do the math. Let's look at how the Sunshine Motel is hurt by a flood.