Going with the Floe

For towboat crews, life on the Mississippi is a chilling experience

It was around Thanksgiving that the square-bowed towboat Cooperative Vanguard revved up its diesels in St. Paul and headed down the Mississippi, bound for St. Louis. In its charge: an unwieldy string of 15 barges, each filled with 1,500 tons of corn, soybeans or other grains that were being rushed to market late in the navigation season to capitalize on rising prices. The 680-mile trip usually takes six to ten days, depending on the traffic at the 26 locks and dams along the way. This time the floating entourage did not...

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