You may not realize it but the barge and the airplane are the backbone of getting supplies to most of Alaska. You may wonder at the statement because you are used to seeing trucks driving down the roads all the time. You see them in traffic. You don't like it when they turn wide so they can make the turn.
The problem is that most of Alaska is not connected by roads. if you check the map, you see lots of rivers and lakes but few actual roads. Thus the need for barges and airplanes.
We get a barge in two to three times a year and believe me, they are extremely important because its the barge that brings in the gas needed to run the power plant, the snow machines, the ATV's, the city. If the gas had to be flown in, the price would be well above the current $6.35 per gallon because air freight is cheaper. One thing about gas coming in by air is that the price is stable all winter long till spring because enough gas is brought in to last 7 to 9 months. We do not suffer the weekly or month changes in price people do when they have a regular deliveries.
The barge also brings in tires, heavy equipment, building supplies and what ever else is too heavy or expensive to bring in by air including trucks. The barge is huge because has to come from the ocean, up a series of rivers to reach its destination. Most villages have a spot the barge can anchor itself so it can unload supplies.
This is probably the last of 2 to 3 barges that stops through during the summer and it signals that winter won't be too much longer.