The IRPT is a relatively young organization which was founded in 1974.Circumstances leading up to the formation of the IRPT, the initiatives of the organization and broad based predictions into the near future are included in the paragraphs which follow.
a. A Historical Reminder. Even for those who have wisdom and experience with inland rivers, ports and terminals, it is important to look from the present into the future by starting at some point in the past. The key word from that past is LANDINGS. In the youthful United States of America, truly a land of streams and canals, there were (before railroads and all-weather highways) thousands of landings, each a model of simplicity, each established at almost no landside cost, and above all each located so a wagon could be maneuvered for loading or unloading. The steamboats, particularly on the smaller rivers, demanded only about two feet of water and each carried a landing stage which could reach to dry land at any reasonable variable of stream stage. Above all, every conceivable item, from needles upward, crossed the landings to service a consumer market within about a day’s trip from or to the landing by horse or wagon.
As railcars, trucks, interstate pipelines, electrical transmission lines and many other forms of efficient land transport developed, the all-purposes nature of land transportation on roadways paved with water became predominant only in the field of bulk commodities in units no smaller than 1000 to 1500 tons. Each fully loaded barge has, since the WWI era, required a safe water depth of at least 9 feet. As a result the simple landing became a costly wharf with an intermodal transportation terminal for handling, storage, and transfer. The large size of the standard barge unit dictated that those complexes be located at widely spaced intervals each associated with mass distribution, accumulation, or production. Successful inland river ports now are few and far between in contrast to the earlier historically successful landings. History also indicates that inland waterways ports and terminals industry has been a dynamic and constantly changing one. The IRPT entered that historic stream in the mid-1970′s.
b. History of the IRPT. A few days before Christmas 1973 Milton Barschdorf, Port Director of the Greenville (Mississippi) Port, took personal action which resulted in the birth of the Inland Rivers, Ports and Terminals, Incorporated, on May 29, 1974, at St. Louis, Missouri. The reason for its formation was the inauguration of the first generation of deep draft container ships carrying special barges which could transport their freight directly to and from inland ports without transloading. The applicable special export/import regulated rate structure adversely effected, directly, the inland rivers transportation industry and, indirectly, the inland rivers, ports and terminals industry. Concerted professionally oriented action through the IRPT, its newly formed trade association, produced the desired beneficial changes.
One year after its organizational meeting the IRPT published Membership Letter No. 1. It noted that the IRPT had already been recognized as the industry spokesman for inland rivers, ports and terminals by the Waterways Journal, Traffic World, Journal of Commerce, and other publications. It also reported on contacts with key officials in Washington regarding 14 bills from the legislative mill before Congress. Naturally, it also included a plug for new members. Today, the NEWS BULLETIN is published quarterly with the additional publication of timely NEWS FLASHES.
In May of 1987 the office management was converted from one in St. Louis operated on a personal contribution basis to a contract with Public Offices Services in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Those successes generated confidences which, in turn, cleared the pathway to additional accomplishments. Its growing membership created ever broadening internal organizational and individual realizations of the importance of the inland river port and terminal business in today’s internationalizing world of competition. The IRPT as an organization continues to demonstrate that the industry is and will continue to be a dynamic force in the nations’ economic growth and stability.
INLAND RIVERS, PORTS & TERMINALS, INC., was chartered as a non-profit corporation in 1974 under the laws of the State of Missouri.
c. The Immediate Future. The relatively short historic life span of ports in inland rivers makes it doubly difficult to define or predict the imminent future for the industry. The idea that each is a barge port at which the dry-land modes are subordinate to the wet one has been passé for many years but inland port and terminal managers are, as a group, only now becoming sufficiently aware of that fact for it to create a decade of vigorous changes and growth. The creator of those beneficial changes is that new breed of professional inland rivers terminal managers and port directors who now are united through IRPT in a deliberative action body working within appropriate limitations. (See paragraph 6 for a list of trends)