Barges were constructed and assembled adjacent to rivers so that they would be immediately ready for service.
A river barge was a large, generally flat-bottomed boat used for transporting goods. Most barges on inland waterways are towed, but some river barges are self-propelled. All modern barges are built of steel and are designed for various purposes including transporting bulk cargoes such as coal. Large flat-bottomed barges called lighters are used for transporting cargo to or from a vessel that cannot be berthed at a pier or dock. Barge towing, done in the past by men or by horses or mules, is now accomplished mostly by steam or motor tugboat or by other, self-propelled barges.