Intracoastal Waterway

The Intracoastal Waterway spans 3,000 miles along both the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean coasts, boasting some of the richest and most scenic landscapes across the Eastern Seaboard in the United States. The waterway, which runs from Virginia to the Florida Keys and the Gulf from Apalachee Bay to Texas, transforms into several types of water systems including salt water rivers, naturally occurring inlets, sounds, bays, and even some man-made canals. It is split into the Atlantic and Gulf sections, purposed to offer an alternative to ocean navigation for light crafts and commercial barges, therefore decreasing many of the dangers of ocean travel. Albert Gallatin, the U.S. Treasury Secretary in 1808, proposed a plan for a canal system aimed to connect Brownsville Harbor to Boston Harbor. Initially rejected, surveys done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers eventually brought the plan to light.

Intracoastal Waterway Map

Beginning in New York, the Intracoastal Waterway is hugged by a flat landscape that seems to slip seamlessly into the ocean. The shallow areas are so broad they collapse most waves storming in from the distance. Along the way, a topographical map illustrates series’ of sand-laden barrier islands—created by sediment shaped by the ocean—fronting a network of estuaries and lagoons rich with wildlife. Along the first stretch is a chain of southward routes that jag northwest before careening south again. It’s not until about Myrtle Beach and Charleston that the waterway runs in a languid southern direction with a slight, smooth westward turn, which evens out around Fort Pierce and West Palm Beach.

Gulf Intracoastal Waterway

Gulf Intracoastal Waterway
Gulf Intracoastal Waterway

The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway is a section of the main route completed in 1949 and situated alongside the Gulf of Mexico coastline in the United States. This part of the waterway spans about 1,000 miles from Carrabelle in Florida to Brownsville in Texas. The Gulf portion is completely navigable, providing a twelve-foot deep channel created mainly for barge transport. The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway meets or crosses many renowned American rivers including the Lower Mississippi River and the Houston Ship Channel. Corpus Christi, Baton Rouge, and more than 20 more harbors and ports are along the route as well.

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