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Waterways

  • Iowa has 491 miles of navigable river bordering its state, and it is the only state in the nation bordered by two navigable rivers.

  • Iowa has 491 miles of navigable river bordering its state, and it is the only state in the nation bordered by two navigable rivers.
  • In 2010, 10.5 million tons of commodities (mostly grain, coal and fertilizer) moved to, from and within Iowa. Grain comprised the largest quantity of this tonnage, totaling nearly 56 percent overall. Sand and gravel was the second largest commodity, totaling 9 percent of the tonnage, followed closely by chemicals and fertilizer which totalled 8 percent.

  • The state of Iowa borders 312 miles of the upper Mississippi River. This area is a vital segment of the Inland Waterway System, providing an economic transportation link from the upper Midwest to the lower Mississippi Valley and the Gulf of Mexico.
  • There are 11 navigation locks and dams on the Mississippi River bordering Iowa. Eight of the locks have a single chamber measuring 110 feet by 600 feet. Locks and Dams 14 and 15 have main chambers of that size, with auxiliary locks measuring 80 feet by 320 feet and 110 feet by 360 feet, respectively. Lock and Dam 19 has a 110 feet by 1200 feet chamber built in 1957. The other structures were built in the 1930s.
  • There were 60 barge terminals in Iowa that shipped and received tonnage in 2012 (55 on the Mississippi River and five on the Missouri River).
  • In 2012, 9.4 million tons of commodities (mostly agriculture-related products) moved to and from Iowa on the waterway system. Grain comprised he largest quantity of this tonnage, totaling 57 percent overall. Other agriculture products were the second largest, totaling 28 percent of the tonnage, followed by coal and nonmetal mineral products.
  • An analysis of the waterborne commerce data for Iowa shows that 8.2 million tons of commodities were shipped from Iowa terminals on the river system in 2012. Roughly 65 percent of this tonnage (5.4 million tons) consisted of grain, mostly corn and soybeans.
  • Terminals in the state received just under 1.2 million tons in 2012, with coal, fertilizers, and basic chemicals being the primary commodities.
  • Iowa terminals shipped commodities by barge to five states and received commodities from four states in 2012. Of those states, Louisiana received the most cargo, nearly 6.3 million tons. Most of this was grain (corn, soybeans, cereal grains, and oilseeds) that was then loaded onto ships to be exported to other countries.
  • Louisiana also shipped the most cargo by barge to Iowa. Over 500,000 tons of commodities such as chemicals, fertilizers, sand, and gravel were shipped. Illinois shipments to Iowa were second at just over 400,000 tons.
  • View the cargo capacity chart depicting a comparison among modes of transportation.