A towboat drifts down the Mississippi River, due for the port of New Orleans. The water, the banks, the bright lights of a port ahead; the lure of a coming paycheck and a home-cooked meal. This is the world of Barge. On board, dry land’s misfits find purpose and direction twenty-eight days at a time as the steady hands of an industrial ecosystem teeming with line boats, fleet boats, and a few million tons of cargo moved each year. A green deckhand following his father and grandmother into the family business. A former convict working his way upward job by job, in the hopes of being First Mate. A thirty-eight year veteran engineer in no hurry to retire. An ancient waterway pulling a double shift as the backbone of a national economy; a tangle of thick steel cables, tied together just right. As long as the boat’s moving, they’re making money. An intimate portrait of the machinery of American ambitions.