A little further southeast of here, 36 years ago, the U.S. Corps of Engineers dredged rivers, built locks, and made a Port, able to handle barge traffic.
Waterway to the World. The McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (map) is a 440-mile waterway linking Oklahoma and the surrounding five-state area with ports on the nation’s 25,000-mile inland waterway system, and foreign and domestic ports beyond by way of New Orleans and the Gulf Intracoastal waterway. Because of its south central location, the waterway is operational year-round, regardless of weather conditions.
The Tulsa Port of Catoosa, near Tulsa, Oklahoma, (proximity map) is located at the head of navigation for the System. The waterway travels 445 miles along the Verdigris River, the Arkansas River, the Arkansas Post Canal and the White River before joining the Mississippi at Montgomery Point. New Orleans is 600 miles south.
There are 18 locks and dams on the McClellan-Kerr. Each of these dams creates a reservoir, or what is called a navigation pool. The system of locks and dams can be likened to a 440-mile staircase of water.
In an average year, 13-million tons of cargo is transported on the McClellan-Kerr by barge. This ranges from sand and rock to fertilizer, wheat, raw steel, refined petroleum products and sophisticated petrochemical processing equipment.
I just think it's interesting that this system exists, and most of us, even those who live around here, don't know about it.
Everyone thinks they must go through the Panama Canal to experience going through a lock. I don't know if there are any passenger boats which use this system, but I think it would be fun to take a ride. Maybe one of the tug boat operators will let me hop onboard some day.