Ports and Terminals
Cargo handling on the Tennessee
River freight is handled at approximately 185 public- and private-use terminals at locations all across the Valley. The public-use terminals are equipped to handle a broad range of commodities and actively solicit business from a variety of shippers. Private-use terminals are designed for the specific needs of their owners and are usually equipped to handle only one kind of commodity, such as coal, grain, or liquid chemicals.
The location of ports is determined mainly by centers of industrial activity. The busiest of these urban ports is Decatur, Alabama. Decatur handles over five million tons of river freight annually, almost half of which consists of grains moving inbound to be processed into food products and animal feed.
Other major port areas in the Valley include Paducah and Calvert City, Kentucky; Florence, Muscle Shoals, and Guntersville, Alabama; and Chattanooga and Lenoir City, Tennessee. Commercial navigation connects these areas in ways that are critically important to the regions economy, allowing industrial customers direct access to inexpensive shipping.