Celebrating the Vision: Past, Present and Future
In 2021, we celebrate the Tulsa Port of Catoosa’s 50th Anniversary! On June 5th, 1971, President Richard M. Nixon officially dedicated the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) and the Tulsa Port of Catoosa in a historic and memorable visit. As we reflect on and commemorate the leadership, dedication and advocacy efforts the past fifty years, we also look ahead to continuing the vision and impact of the Tulsa Ports!
1946: McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation (MKARNS) project is authorized with the passing of the Rivers and Harbors Act.
1960s: Tulsa emerged as a port city when 23 business leaders traveled from Tulsa to examine the Ohio River Valley navigation systems to evaluate their effect on industrial growth. The delegates convinced Tulsa business leaders that a port would stimulate business.
1971: The waterway was named for U.S. Sen. John L. McClellan of Arkansas and U.S. Sen. Robert S. Kerr of Oklahoma.
1971: The first barge entered the Tulsa Port of Catoosa carrying 650 tons of newsprint.
1971: President Richard M. Nixon visits the Tulsa Port of Catoosa to dedicate the $1.2 billion navigation system.
1974: A grain elevator was built at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa. Originally a debated project, it became a great asset for the Port.
1980: Bolstered by an oil boom, the industrial park at the Port experienced its first major increase in activity.
1984: Bob Portiss becomes Port Director.
1997: Charley Border, a towboat, was retired. The Charley Border was the first towboat purchased by the Port Authority and served in the Tulsa Port of Catoosa’s harbor switching barges for 27 years. It is now dry-docked at the Port campus for visitors to enjoy.
2005: Montgomery Point Lock and Dam was authorized, funded and built, opening to service in July 2005.
2015: Bob Portiss is honored as a White House "Champion of Change" for being an innovator in transportation and growing the American economy.
2016: The Port’s Main Dock rehabilitation project is completed and dedicated at a formal ceremony attended by legislators, Port employees and industries and transportation representatives.
2017: Bob Portiss retires (in 2016) after 30 years as Port Director. David Yarbrough becomes Port Director as on January 1, 2017.
2017: Tulsa Port of Catoosa’s 50,000th barge travels through the Port from Rosedale, Mississippi.
2019: The Port Authority acquires 2,000 acres in Inola as part of a historic land transfer from Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO).
2020: The Tulsa Ports is awarded a $6.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the Inola Industrial Park Rail Switching Enhancement Project through INFRA.
2020: The Tulsa Port of Catoosa announces a new logo and brand, “Tulsa Ports,” with locations in both Catoosa and Inola, Oklahoma.
2021: This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Tulsa Port of Catoosa.
Schedule of Events
Robert S. Kerr was the first person to be born in Oklahoma to become our Governor. He was the 12th. He was also the first Governor of Oklahoma to go on and serve in the Senate. He was an advocate for flood control on the Arkansas River and all of the benefits that it offered. The navigation system was eventually named after him.
John L. McClellan was the longest running Senator out of the state of Arkansas. He was also an advocate for flood control on the Arkansas River and all of the benefits that it offered. The navigation system was eventually named after him.
Bob Portiss came to work for the City of Tulsa Rogers County Port Authority in March of 1973 in the position of Manager of Traffic and Sales. Bob worked hard for the Port Authority and was appointed Port Director on July 1st, 1984. He was only the fourth person to serve in this capacity. He served in that position until he retired December 30, 2016. Bob was given the title Port Director Emeritus and still advocates for the Port and the Waterway.
Share Your Story
Share your story and celebrate with us! If you or someone you know attended President Nixon’s dedication in June of 1971 or you have photos, stories, memorabilia to share about the Tulsa Port of Catoosa – we’d love to chat with you! Please complete the online form below and we’ll contact you. We look forward to hearing your story!