A barge is a flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods. Some barges are not self-propelled and need to be towed or pushed by towboats. Canal barges, 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 railways.
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