A tug and a barge plied between Swepsonville, a cotton mill village, and Haw River for many years. Swepsonville is located five miles downstream from the Southern Railway bridge on the banks of the Haw River. By 1870, the town's cotton mill was producing to capacity and the problem was how to get the goods to the nearest railroad station. Manager G. Rosenthall and E.M. Cooke explored the waterway and found it navigable by flat-bottom boat. Later, a small barge was constructed by native craftsmen and the river was opened for travel.