The McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System and the Tulsa Port of Catoosa was officially dedicated on June 5, 1971.

Celebrating the Vision


In 2021, we celebrate the Tulsa Port of Catoosa’s 50th Anniversary! On June 5, 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.

Early 1960s

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.

January 21, 1971

1971: The first barge entered the Tulsa Port of Catoosa carrying 650 tons of newsprint.

June 5, 1971

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.

July 2005

2005: Montgomery Point Lock and Dam was authorized, funded and built, opening to service in July 2005.

October 13, 2015

2015: Bob Portiss is honored as a White House "Champion of Change" for being an innovator in transportation and growing the American economy.

May 10, 2016

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.

January 1, 2017

2017: Bob Portiss retires (in 2016) after 30 years as Port Director. David Yarbrough becomes Port Director as on January 1, 2017.

December 2017

2017: Tulsa Port of Catoosa’s 50,000th barge travels through the Port from Rosedale, Mississippi.

October 2019

2019: The Port Authority acquires 2,000 acres in Inola as part of a historic land transfer from Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO).

June 2020

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.

September 2020

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.

Cost to Build the Waterway System in 1960s
$ 0
Tons Shipped Since January 1971
Presidential Visit

Prominent Figures

Photo Gallery

Construction of Dam, 1960

Rivers and Harbors Act, 1946

Bank Reconstruction, 1952-1963

President Richard M. Nixon visit, 1971

Port Authority found 2,000 acres of land,1967

First barge to enter the Tulsa Ports, 1971