The Demise of the Wooden Barge
The wooden barge experienced an odd resurgence during WW II. Although the majority of barges were steel, some barge operators felt that there could be a use for new wooden barges for dry-cargo and for oil. Objections arose, mainly a general worry about inflammable cargo in wooden vessels and seawater contamination (leaks) in the coastal waterways. Nevertheless, 269 wooden barges were built by October 1943, but they were like a drug on the market in spite of the great needs of war. The Army and Navy used 189 of them, private companies used 3, but 77 were tied at the wharfs and never used, at least not during the war (Frey & Ide, 1946). This wartime episode was the swansong of the wooden oil barges. Even then, at the peak in their career, to sight one was a rare occurrence because of the prodigious number of steel barges in use in the waterways.