Transport By Barge on the Erie Canal Uses a Tenth of The Fuel of a Truck

packing apples on the erie canal photo

Two years ago we wrote in TreeHugger: "One hundred years ago, things were busy in upstate New York. Although the railway was the main means of transport, the Erie canal was still a cheap, energy efficient way of moving goods, as this picture taken in Medina NY in 1906 shows. Fisher Price made toys here; Heinz processed vegetables, all using the transportation network to move goods to the Northeast market. Things have changed- the industry is gone, the farms are fallow."

But the infrastructure didn't go away, and now traffic appears to be coming back. According to the Syracuse Post-standard:

Rising fuel prices are pushing shippers to take a new look at an old way to deliver their goods - the Erie Canal. "Our inquiries are definitely up," said Capt. Rob Goldman, of New York State Marine Highway Transportation Co., the largest shipper on the state's 524-mile canal system.

map of erie canal photo

There is a good reason: " According to the federal transportation department, shipping by water is far more energy-efficient. In a tractor-trailer, one gallon of fuel is needed to transport one ton of freight 59 miles. On a barge, the same load will go 514 miles on a gallon of fuel."

The tide may be turning for the canal's commercial use, said Carmella Mantello, director of the state's Canal Corp.

"The canal is slower, but it's fuel-efficient and it's greener," Mantello said. "One barge can carry the equivalent of 60 tractor-trailers."

We have made the point many times before: in a world without oil, the place to be is near the water and near the customers. We concluded two years ago:

"Its time to get back to planting those cabbages in upper New York State and to get HJ Heinz back processing tomatoes and use that railway and Erie Canal to bring local food to that enormous Northeast Market.... That is where the future is." via ::groovy green
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