Knoxville is located at the head of the Tennessee River navigation channel. The river is part of the Interconnected Inland Water System which links Knoxville with 21 states, the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes. Linkages may be made to the entire inland waterway system, allowing shipments to be made by water to Houston, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and Little Rock.
Three active river terminals handle barge shipments in Knoxville. The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway links East Tennessee to 13 other states and the Gulf of Mexico. The waterway shortens shipping between Tennessee and the Gulf of Mexico by 882 miles and enables East Tennessee products to arrive at their Gulf destination from eight to nine days earlier.