Where Does the Intercoastal Waterway Begin and End?

The Intercoastal Waterway is divided into two sections with differnet begining and ending points. The Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway runs from Boston, Mass. to Key West, Fla., while the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway runs from Brownsville, Texas to Apalachee Bay, Fla. The beginning and ending points are a matter of perspective.

The Intercoastal Waterway is a nearly 3,000-mile-long navigable waterway that runs along the Atlantic Ocean and the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in the eastern and southern United States. It is composed of rivers, bays, lagoons and canals and is maintained by the federal government, except the Texas portion, which is maintained by the Texas State Highway and Public Transportation Commission.

The Atlantic section north of Norfolk, Va. is used primarily by commercial vessels, while pleasure craft dominate the southern section of the waterway. According to Britannica.com, the waterway was heavily used during World War II to avoid German submarines in the Atlantic Ocean. It has a minimum depth of approximately 6 feet.

The Gulf Intercoastal Waterway runs primarily behind the beaches along the Gulf Coast and is dominated by commercial traffic. New Orleans, La. and Mobile Bay, Ala. are two of the busiest ports on the waterway. Petroleum and petroleum products, equipment for oil fields, industrial chemicals and sulfur are major products shipped along the gulf.