Historically, societies have always located near water, due partly to the
fact that water enables more efficient travel compared to going over land.
Waterways are critically important to the transportation of people and
goods throughout the world. The complex network of connections between
coastal ports, inland ports, rail, air, and truck routes forms a
foundation of material economic wealth worldwide.
Within the United States, waterways have been developed and integrated
into a world-class transportation system that has been instrumental in the
country’s economic development. Today, there are more than 17,700
kilometers of commercially important navigation channels in the lower 48
Early History of Water-based Transportation
The historical development of water-based transportation is connected to
the importance of domestic and international trade. Early exploration of
North America identified large amounts of natural resources such as
fisheries, timber, and furs. Trade centers were established along the
east coast of North America