Building on a river of opportunities

29 Jan 2021


Commuters, and occasionally a semi-truck, woosh and hum across a bridge over the Verdigris River on Route 66 between Catoosa and Claremore. Along the west side of the bridge, a train pulls 50 railcars loaded with coal and other materials.

Below, a towboat quietly pushes 12 hopper barges of grain — equal to 720 semi loads —through the 9-foot-deep river channel. From the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, the cargo begins its journey to the other side of the world.

The shipment — which will travel 445 miles on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System from Catoosa to Little Rock before floating down the Mississippi River until it reaches New Orleans, then heads to China — is one of the more than 50,000 barge loads that have departed one of the most inland ports in the country. In its lifetime, there have been more than 87 million tons shipped from there to date.

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