R.E. Cheesman described the Reb in 1936 as bringing "down quantities of dark sand, and we passed banks of it deposited on the lake shore. The river bar, 600 yards out in the lake, is a semicircle, and parties of travellers with loaded donkeys were passing round it instead of crossing the river." Merchants based in Yifag would transport bars of salt or amoleh in small boats or tankwas down the Reb to Zege on the lake to trade for coffee.
The Reb was also the site of one of several stone bridges built during the time of the Jesuit missionaries or the reign of Fasilides. Consisting of five arches, it was located 24 kilometers (15 miles) from the estuary and enabled travel between Gondar and Debre Tabor. During the Italian occupation, the Italians built a bridge over the river with wooden supports, but it was damaged during the British campaign.