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I know how the empty barrels were returned to Laketown, but not how the Wood-Elves obtained them. According to Tolkien, how did the apple barrels make it to the house of the Wood-Elves?

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  • So your question is how the barrels were physically transported from Laketown?
    – Omegacron
    Dec 9, 2014 at 19:28
  • Yes. How they physically arrived. Dec 9, 2014 at 19:56

2 Answers 2

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They were rowed upstream, or carried on barges:

From Lake-town the barrels were brought up the Forest River. Often they were just tied together like big rafts and poled or rowed up the stream; sometimes they were loaded on to flat boats.

(The Hobbit, Chapter 9, "Barrels out of Bond")

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There was constant trade between Thranduil's people and the huge lands to east.

Generally Esgaroth formed a convenient, independent middle-man for many races with mercantile links out through Rhun and Harad and as far south as Umbar and beyond. You could almost think of them as the Dutch at the time of the VoC - small in number but sitting on one of the most important trading links of the world.

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