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Barge

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A barge is a flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods. Most barges are non-self-propelled and need to be moved by tugboats towing them or towboats pushing them. Barges on canals (towed by draft animals on an adjacent towpath) contended with the railway in the early industrial revolution but were outcompeted in the carriage of high value items due to the higher speed, falling costs, and route flexibility of rail transport. Barges are still used today for low value bulk items, as the cost of hauling goods by barge is very low.

Self propelled barges may be used as such when traveling downstream or upstream in placid waters and operated as an unpowered barge with the assistance of a tugboat when traveling upstream in faster waters.

Types of barges:

On the UK canal system, the term barge is used to describe a boat wider than a narrowboat.

The people who move barges are often known as lightermen.

A barge pole is used by lightermen to fend off the barge as it nears other vessels or a wharf. These long poles have given rise to the saying, "I wouldn't touch that (subject/thing) with a barge pole." The meaning is that something is so unseemly or contentious that the person wants to avoid it or being associated with it at all costs. A common variation is to say, "I wouldn't touch that with a (insert length) barge pole." Typically the length for small avoidance is "ten foot": The greater the length, the more the sayer feels it is to be avoided.

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