Business: The Intracoastal Waterway

AMONG the world's great waterways the mighty Mississippi, Germany's strategic Kiel Canal, the vital Panama and troubled Suez are all familiar names. But one waterway with more importance than fame is a muddy, undramatic complex of barge canals and shallow channels rambling 1,116 miles around the U.S. Gulf Coast from Brownsville, Texas to St. Marks, Fla. It is the Intracoastal Waterway, tying the entire Gulf Coast area into the nation's vast, 28,000-mile system of waterways. For Southerners it is a chief reason for the greatest boom in Gulf Coast history. As one rhapsodic Texan put it: "A shining strand linking...

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