Arkansas River

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Arkansas River
AR Arkansas River.jpg
The lower part of the Arkansas River near Little Rock, Arkansas
Arkansas river basin map.png
The Arkansas River flows through Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, and its watershed also drains parts of Texas, New Mexico and Missouri.
Country United States
State Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas
Region Great Plains
Cities Pueblo, CO, Wichita, KS, Tulsa, OK, Muskogee, OK, Fort Smith, AR, Little Rock, AR, Pine Bluff, AR
Physical characteristics
SourceConfluence of East Fork Arkansas River and Tennessee Creek
  locationNear Leadville, Rocky Mountains, Colorado
  coordinates 39°15′30″N106°20′38″W / 39.25833°N 106.34389°W / 39.25833; -106.34389 [1]
  elevation9,728 ft (2,965 m)
Mouth Mississippi River
Franklin Township, Desha County, near Napoleon, Arkansas
33°46′30″N91°6′30″W / 33.77500°N 91.10833°W / 33.77500; -91.10833 Coordinates: 33°46′30″N91°6′30″W / 33.77500°N 91.10833°W / 33.77500; -91.10833 [2] [1]
108 ft (33 m) [3] [1]
Length1,469 mi (2,364 km), West-east [4]
Basin size168,000 sq mi (440,000 km2) [5]
  location Little Rock, AR [6]
  average39,850 cu ft/s (1,128 m3/s) [6]
  minimum1,141 cu ft/s (32.3 m3/s)
  maximum536,000 cu ft/s (15,200 m3/s)
Basin features
River system Mississippi River watershed
  left Fountain Creek, Pawnee River, Little Arkansas River, Walnut River, Verdigris River, Neosho River
  right Cimarron River, Salt Fork Arkansas River, La Flecha, Canadian River, Poteau River

The Arkansas River is a major tributary of the Mississippi River. It generally flows to the east and southeast as it traverses the U.S. states of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The river's source basin lies in the western United States in Colorado, specifically the Arkansas River Valley, where the headwaters derive from the snowpack in the Sawatch and Mosquito mountain ranges. It then flows east into the Midwest via Kansas, and finally into the South through Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Tributary stream or river that flows into a main stem river or lake

A tributary or affluent is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stem river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean. Tributaries and the main stem river drain the surrounding drainage basin of its surface water and groundwater, leading the water out into an ocean.

Mississippi River largest river system in North America

The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river of the second-largest drainage system on the North American continent, second only to the Hudson Bay drainage system. From its traditional source of Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota, it flows generally south for 2,320 miles (3,730 km) to the Mississippi River Delta in the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains all or parts of 32 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces between the Rocky and Appalachian mountains. The main stem is entirely within the United States; the total drainage basin is 1,151,000 sq mi (2,980,000 km2), of which only about one percent is in Canada. The Mississippi ranks as the fourth-longest and fifteenth-largest river by discharge in the world. The river either borders or passes through the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Colorado State in the United States

Colorado is a state of the Western United States encompassing most of the southern Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains. It is the 8th most extensive and 21st most populous U.S. state. The estimated population of Colorado was 5,695,564 on July 1, 2018, an increase of 13.25% since the 2010 United States Census.


At 1,469 miles (2,364 km), it is the sixth-longest river in the United States, [7] the second-longest tributary in the Mississippi–Missouri system, and the 45th longest river in the world. Its origin is in the Rocky Mountains in Lake County, Colorado, near Leadville. In 1859, placer gold discovered in the Leadville area brought thousands seeking to strike it rich, but the easily recovered placer gold was quickly exhausted. [8] The Arkansas River's mouth is at Napoleon, Arkansas, and its drainage basin covers nearly 170,000 square miles (440,000 km2). [5] Its volume is much smaller than the Missouri and Ohio Rivers, with a mean discharge of about 40,000 cubic feet per second (1,100 m3/s).

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or simply America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, it is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. Most of the country is located in central North America between Canada and Mexico. With an estimated population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City.

Missouri River major river in the central United States, tributary of the Mississippi

The Missouri River is the longest river in North America. Rising in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana, the Missouri flows east and south for 2,341 miles (3,767 km) before entering the Mississippi River north of St. Louis, Missouri. The river drains a sparsely populated, semi-arid watershed of more than 500,000 square miles (1,300,000 km2), which includes parts of ten U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. Although nominally considered a tributary of the Mississippi, the Missouri River above the confluence is much longer and carries a comparable volume of water. When combined with the lower Mississippi River, it forms the world's fourth longest river system.

Rocky Mountains Major mountain range in western North America

The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range located in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch 3,000 km (1,900 mi) in straight-line distance from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico in the Southwestern United States. Located within the North American Cordillera, the Rockies are distinct from the Pacific Coast Ranges, Cascade Range, and the Sierra Nevada, which all lie farther to the west.

The Arkansas from its headwaters to the 100th meridian west formed part of the U.S.–Mexico border from the Adams–Onís Treaty (in force 1821) until the Texas Annexation or Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

100th meridian west line of longitude west of the Greenwich Meridian

The meridian 100° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole.

Adams–Onís Treaty Treaty between the United States and Spain, ceding Florida to the U.S.

The Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819, also known as the Transcontinental Treaty, the Florida Purchase Treaty, or the Florida Treaty, was a treaty between the United States and Spain in 1819 that ceded Florida to the U.S. and defined the boundary between the U.S. and New Spain. It settled a standing border dispute between the two countries and was considered a triumph of American diplomacy. It came in the midst of increasing tensions related to Spain's territorial boundaries in North America against the United States and Great Britain in the aftermath of the American Revolution; it also came during the Latin American wars of independence.

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo peace treaty that concludes Mexican-American War of 1846-1848

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, officially titled the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Limits and Settlement between the United States of America and the Mexican Republic, is the peace treaty signed on February 2, 1848, in the Villa de Guadalupe Hidalgo between the United States and Mexico that ended the Mexican–American War (1846–1848). The treaty came into force on July 4, 1848.


Name pronunciation varies by region. Some people in the upper reaches of the river, particularly in Kansas, and parts of Colorado, pronounce it /ɑːrˈkænzəs/ ar-KAN-zəs, [9] People in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and some parts of Colorado, typically pronounce it /ˈɑːrkənsɔː/ AR-kən-saw, which is how the Arkansas state is always pronounced according to a state law passed in 1881. [10]

Kansas State in the United States

Kansas is a U.S. state in the Midwestern United States. Its capital is Topeka and its largest city is Wichita, with its most populated county being Johnson County. Kansas is bordered by Nebraska on the north; Missouri on the east; Oklahoma on the south; and Colorado on the west. Kansas is named after the Kansas River, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native Americans who lived along its banks. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the (south) wind" although this was probably not the term's original meaning. For thousands of years, what is now Kansas was home to numerous and diverse Native American tribes. Tribes in the eastern part of the state generally lived in villages along the river valleys. Tribes in the western part of the state were semi-nomadic and hunted large herds of bison.

Oklahoma State in the United States

Oklahoma is a state in the South Central region of the United States, bordered by the state of Texas on the south and west, Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, New Mexico on the west, and Colorado on the northwest. It is the 20th-most extensive and the 28th-most populous of the 50 United States. The state's name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people". It is also known informally by its nickname, "The Sooner State", in reference to the non-Native settlers who staked their claims on land before the official opening date of lands in the western Oklahoma Territory or before the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, which increased European-American settlement in the eastern Indian Territory. Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were merged into the State of Oklahoma when it became the 46th state to enter the union on November 16, 1907. Its residents are known as Oklahomans, and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.

Physical geography

Course changes

The path of the Arkansas River has changed over time. Sediments from the river found in a palaeochannel next to Nolan, a site in the Tensas Basin, show that part of the river's meander belt flowed through up to 5200 BP. Whilst it was previously thought that this relict channel was active at the same time as another relict of Mississippi River's meander belt, it has been shown that this channel of the Arkansas was inactive approximately 400 years before the Mississippi channel was active. [11]

A palaeochannel, or paleochannel, is a remnant of an inactive river or stream channel that has been filled or buried by younger sediment. The sediments that the ancient channel is cut into or buried by can be unconsolidated, semi-consolidated, consolidated or lithified. The word palaeochannel is formed from the palaeo, meaning "old," and channel. It may be synonymous with palaeovalley and palaeoriver.

Tensas River river in the United States of America

The Tensas River is a river in Louisiana in the United States. The river, known as Tensas Bayou in its upper reaches, begins in East Carroll Parish in the northeast corner of the state and runs roughly southwest for 177 miles (285 km) more or less in parallel with the Mississippi River. The Tensas River merges with the Ouachita River in Jonesville in Catahoula Parish to become the Black River, not to be confused with Black Lake in Natchitoches Parish in north central Louisiana.

Before Present (BP) years is a time scale used mainly in archaeology, geology and other scientific disciplines to specify when events occurred in the past. Because the "present" time changes, standard practice is to use 1 January 1950 as the commencement date (epoch) of the age scale, reflecting the origin of practical radiocarbon dating in the 1950s. The abbreviation "BP" has been interpreted retrospectively as "Before Physics"; that refers to the time before nuclear weapons testing artificially altered the proportion of the carbon isotopes in the atmosphere, making dating after that time likely to be unreliable.


The headwaters of the Arkansas near Leadville, Colorado Arkansas head waters.jpg
The headwaters of the Arkansas near Leadville, Colorado

The Arkansas has three distinct sections in its long path through central North America. At its headwaters beginning near Leadville, Colorado, the Arkansas runs as a steep fast-flowing mountain river through the Rockies in its narrow valley, dropping 4,600 feet (1,400 m) in 120 miles (190 km). [12] This section supports extensive whitewater rafting, including The Numbers (near Granite, Colorado), Brown's Canyon, and the Royal Gorge.

Leadville, Colorado Statutory City in Colorado, United States

Leadville is the statutory city that is the county seat and only incorporated municipality in Lake County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 2,602 at the 2010 census and an estimated 2,893 in 2018. Leadville is situated at an elevation of 10,152 feet (3,094 m). Originally called "Silver City", Leadville was the first proposed capital of the state and the last place Doc Holliday was a lawman.

Granite, Colorado Unincorporated community in Colorado, United States

Granite is an unincorporated community with a U.S. Post Office in Chaffee County, Colorado, United States. The zip code of Granite is 81228. According to the 2010 census, the population is 116.

Browns Canyon National Monument

Browns Canyon National Monument is a 21,586 acres national monument in Chaffee County, Colorado that was designated as such by President Barack Obama under the Antiquities Act on February 19, 2015. The site will be centered along the Arkansas River between Buena Vista and Salida. Browns Canyon is the most popular destination for whitewater rafting in the country, and is also known for its fishing and hiking. The monument will provide habitat protection for bighorn sheep, peregrine falcons, elk, and golden eagles.

At Cañon City, Colorado, the Arkansas River valley widens and flattens markedly. Just west of Pueblo, Colorado, the river enters the Great Plains. Through the rest of Colorado, Kansas, and much of Oklahoma, it is a typical Great Plains riverway, with wide, shallow banks subject to seasonal flooding and periods of dwindling flow. Tributaries include the Cimarron River and the Salt Fork Arkansas River.

In eastern Oklahoma the river begins to widen further into a more contained consistent channel. To maintain more reliable flow rates, a series of large reservoir lakes have been built on the Arkansas and its intersecting tributaries including the Canadian, Verdigris, Neosho (Grand), Illinois, and Poteau rivers. [13] These locks and dams allow the river to be navigable by barges and large river craft downriver of Muskogee, Oklahoma, where the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System joins in with the Verdigris River.

Into western Arkansas, the river path works between the encroaching Boston and Ouachita Mountains, including many isolated, flat-topped mesas, buttes, or monadnocks such as Mount Nebo, Petit Jean Mountain, and Mount Magazine, the highest point in the state. The river valley then expands as it encounters much flatter land beginning just west of Little Rock, Arkansas. It continues eastward across the plains and forests of eastern Arkansas until it flows into the Mississippi River.[ clarification needed ]

Water flow in the Arkansas River (as measured in central Kansas) has dropped from approximately 248 cubic feet per second (7.0 m3/s) average from 1944–1963 to 53 cubic feet per second (1.5 m3/s) average from 1984–2003, largely because of the pumping of groundwater for irrigation in eastern Colorado and western Kansas.

Important cities along the Arkansas River include Canon City, Colorado; Pueblo, Colorado; La Junta, Colorado; Lamar, Colorado; Garden City, Kansas; Dodge City, Kansas; Wichita, Kansas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Fort Smith, Arkansas; and Little Rock, Arkansas.

The May 2002 I-40 bridge disaster took place on I-40's crossing of Kerr Reservoir on the Arkansas River near Webbers Falls, Oklahoma.

Allocation problems

Since 1902, Kansas has claimed Colorado takes too much of the river's water, resulting in a number of lawsuits before the U.S. Supreme Court that continue to this day, [14] generally under the name of Kansas v. Colorado . The problems over the possession and use of Arkansas River water by Colorado and Kansas led to the creation of an interstate compact or agreement between the two states. [14] While Congress approved the Arkansas River Compact in 1949, [14] the compact did not stop further disputes by the two states over water rights to the river.

The Kansas–Oklahoma Arkansas River Basin Compact was created in 1965 to promote mutual consideration and equity over water use in the basin shared by those states. It led to the Kansas–Oklahoma Arkansas River Commission, which was charged with administering the compact and reducing pollution. The compact was approved and implemented by both states in 1970, and has been in force since then. [13]

Riverway commerce

Inland waterway system with McClellan-Kerr Navigational Channel shown in red Kerr-McClellan map.png
Inland waterway system with McClellan-Kerr Navigational Channel shown in red

The McClellan–Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System begins at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa on the Verdigris River, enters the Arkansas River near Muskogee, and runs via an extensive lock and dam system to the Mississippi River. Through Oklahoma and Arkansas, dams which artificially deepen and widen the river to sustain commercial barge traffic and recreational use give the river the appearance of a series of reservoirs.[ citation needed ]

The McClellan–Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System diverts from the Arkansas River 2.5 mi (4.0 km) upstream of the Wilbur D. Mills Dam to avoid the long winding route which the lower Arkansas River follows. This circuitous portion of the Arkansas River between the Wilbur D. Mills Dam and the Mississippi River was historically bypassed by river vessels; early steamboats instead following a network of rivers—known as the Arkansas Post Canalwhich flowed north of the lower Arkansas River and followed a shorter and more direct route to the Mississippi River. When the McClellan–Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System was constructed between 1963 and 1970, the Arkansas Post Canal was significantly improved, while the lower Arkansas River continued to be bypassed by commercial vessels. [15]

The river in history

Arkansas River in Colorado, with Mount Harvard in distance, circa 1867. Photo by William Henry Jackson. Mount Harvard and the Valley of the Arkansas - NARA - 517702.jpg
Arkansas River in Colorado, with Mount Harvard in distance, circa 1867. Photo by William Henry Jackson.

Many nations of Native Americans lived near, or along, the 1,450-mile (2,334-km) stretch of the Arkansas River for thousands of years. The first Europeans to see the river were members of the Spanish Coronado expedition on June 29, 1541. Also in the 1540s, Hernando de Soto discovered the junction of the Arkansas with the Mississippi. The Spanish originally called the river Napeste. [13] "The name "Arkansas" was first applied by Father Jacques Marquette, who called the river Akansa in his journal of 1673. The Joliet-Marquette expedition travelled the Mississippi River from Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin towards the Gulf of Mexico, but turned back at the mouth of the Arkansas River. By that time, they had encountered Native Americans carrying European trinkets, and feared confrontation with Spanish conquistadors.

Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe, a French trader, explorer and nobleman had led an expedition into what is now Oklahoma in 1718–19. His original objective was to establish a trading post near the present city of Texarkana, Arkansas, but he then extended his trip overland as far north as the Arkansas River (which he designated as the Alcansas). The explorer wrote he and nine other men, including three Caddo guides and 22 horses loaded with trade goods had come to a native settlement overlooking the river, where there were about 6,000 natives, who gave the strangers a warm welcome. La Harpe's party were honored with the calumet ceremony and spent ten days at this location. In 1988, evidence of a native village was discovered along the Arkansas River 13 miles (21 km) south of present-day Tulsa, Oklahoma. By then, the site was known as the Lasley Vore Site. [16] [lower-alpha 1]

French traders and trappers who had opened up trade with Indian tribes in Canada and the areas around the Great Lakes began exploring the Mississippi and some of its northern tributaries. They soon learned that the birchbark canoes, which had served them so well on the northern waterways, were too light for use on the southern rivers, such as the Arkansas. They turned to making and using dugout canoes, which they called pirogues, made by hollowing out the trunks of cottonwood trees. [lower-alpha 2] Cottonwoods are plentiful along the streams of the southwest and grow to large sizes. The wood is soft and easily worked with the crude tools carried by both the French and Indians. The pirogues were sturdier and could be more for navigating the sandbars and snags of the Southern waterways. [17]

In 1819, the Adams–Onís Treaty set the Arkansas as part of the frontier between the United States and Spanish Mexico. This continued until the United States annexed Texas after the Mexican–American War, in 1846. The treaty was made shortly after "Old Settler" Cherokees moved to near what became known as Webbers Falls on the Arkansas River. That area, then part of Arkansas Territory would become Indian Territory and later Oklahoma, was traditional territory of the Osage, leading to conflict and a treaty in 1828 but still unresolved by the time thousands of additional Cherokee refugees moved to the area during the Trail of Tears. [18] [19]

By the time Fort Smith was established in 1817, larger capacity watercraft became available to transport goods up and down the Arkansas. These included flatboats (bateaus) and keelboats. Along with the pirogues, they transported piles of deer, bear, otter, beaver and buffalo skins up and down the river. Agricultural products such as corn, rice, dried peaches, beans, peanuts, snake root, sarsaparilla, ginseng had grown in economic importance. [17]

On March 31, 1820, the Comet became the first steamboat to successfully navigate part of the Arkansas River, reaching a place called Arkansas Post, [lower-alpha 3] about 60 miles (97 km) above the confluence of the Arkansas and the Mississippi Rivers. [20] In mid-April, 1822, the Robert Thompson, towing a keelboat, was the first steamboat to navigate the Arkansas as far as Fort Smith. For five years, Fort Smith was known as the head of navigation for steamboats on the river. It lost the title to Fort Gibson in April, 1832, when three steamboats, Velocipede, Scioto and Catawba, all arrived at Fort Gibson later that month. [17] [lower-alpha 4]

Later, the Santa Fe Trail followed the Arkansas through much of Kansas, picking it up near Great Bend and continuing through to La Junta, Colorado, unless users elected to take the challenging Cimarron Cutoff in Cimarron, Kansas. [21]

American Civil War

During the American Civil War, each side tried to prevent the other from using the Arkansas and its tributaries as a route for moving reinforcements. Initially, the Union Army abandoned its forts in the Indian Territory, including Fort Gibson and Fort Smith, in order to maximize its strength for campaigns elsewhere, while the Confederate Army sent troops from Texas to support its Native American allies. Union Troops returned later in the war, after defeating the Confederates at the Battle of Pea Ridge and the Battle of Fort Smith, and began recovering the position it had previously abandoned, most notably Fort Gibson, reopening the Arkansas River as a supply route. In September 1864, a body of Confederate irregulars led by General Stand Watie successfully ambushed a Union supply ship bound for Fort Gibson. The vessel was destroyed, and a part of its cargo was looted by the Confederates.

Post Civil War

In the 1880s, Charles "Buffalo" Jones, one of the cofounders of Garden City, Kansas, organized four irrigation companies to take water one hundred miles from the Arkansas River to cultivate 75,000 acres (300 km2) of land. [22] By 1890, water from the Arkansas was being used to irrigate more than 20,000 acres (8,100 ha) of farmland in Kansas. By 1910, irrigation projects in Colorado had caused the river to stop flowing in July and August. [23]

Flooding in 1927 severely damaged or destroyed nearly every levee downstream of Fort Smith, and led to the development of the Arkansas River Flood Control Association. [23] It also led to the Federal Government assigning responsibility of flood control and navigation on the Arkansas to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE).

Fly fishermen on the Arkansas River near Salida, Colorado Fly Fishermen on the Arkansas River Near Salida Colorado.jpg
Fly fishermen on the Arkansas River near Salida, Colorado


The headwaters of the Arkansas River in central Colorado have been known for exceptional trout fishing, particularly fly fishing, since the 19th century, when greenback cutthroat trout dominated the river. [24] Today, brown trout dominate the river, which also contains rainbow trout. Trout Unlimited considers the Arkansas one of the top 100 trout streams in America, [25] a reputation the river has had since the 1950s. [26] From Leadville to Pueblo, the Arkansas River is serviced by numerous fly shops and guides operating in Buena Vista, Salida, Cañon City and Pueblo. The Colorado Division of Wildlife provides regular online fishing reports for the river. [27] [28]

A fish kill occurred on December 29, 2010, in which an estimated 100,000 freshwater drum lined the Arkansas River bank. [29] [30] An investigation, conducted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, found the dead fish "... cover 17 miles [27 km] of river from the Ozark Lock and Dam downstream to River Mile 240, directly south of Hartman, Arkansas." [30] Tests later indicated the likely cause of the kill was gas bubble trauma caused by opening the spillways on the Ozark Dam. [31]

Littlerockarkansas arkansasriverpano.jpg
The Arkansas River passing through Little Rock, Arkansas, as viewed from the north bank in North Little Rock
Yancopin Bridge.jpg
The Yancopin Bridge is the last crossing of the Arkansas River before it flows into the Mississippi River


  1. A team led by Dr. George H. Odell, an anthropology professor from the University of Tulsa, uncovered artifacts that showed the natives were members of the Wichita people, and that the European artifacts also found there were of the same time period. Dr. Odell concluded this was most likely place that la Harpe met the natives he described. [16]
  2. Pirogues are still used in the swamps and marshes of South Louisiana by descendants of the "Cajuns," who were exiled from Canada by the British. [17]
  3. Arkansas Post is said to have been the first European settlement in the Mississippi Valley, [17]
  4. Fort Gibson had been built in 1824 on the bank of the Verdigris River in what had been called the "Three Forks" area of Indian Territory.

See also

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Verdigris River Tributary of the Arkansas River in Kansas and Oklahoma, USA

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McClellan–Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System Part of the inland waterway system originating at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa and running southeast through Oklahoma and Arkansas to the Mississippi River

The McClellan–Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) is part of the inland waterway system originating at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa and running southeast through Oklahoma and Arkansas to the Mississippi River. The system was named for two Senators: Robert S. Kerr (D-OK) and John L. McClellan (D-AR), who pushed authorizing legislation through Congress. The system officially opened June 5, 1971. President Richard M. Nixon attended the opening ceremony. It is operated by the Corps of Engineers.

Robert S. Kerr Reservoir

Robert S. Kerr Reservoir is located within the Cookson Hills, on the Arkansas River in Sequoyah, Le Flore, Haskell, and Muskogee counties in eastern Oklahoma, US. It is about eight miles south of the nearest major town, Sallisaw, Oklahoma. The reservoir is impounded by Robert S. Kerr Lock and Dam at river mile 336.2 on the Arkansas River, just a few miles below its confluence with the Canadian River. The lock and dam are part of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, which provides for barge navigation on the Arkansas River and some of its tributaries. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains the locks and navigation system.

Webbers Falls Lake

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Wilbur D. Mills Dam dam in Arkansas County, Arkansas / Desha County, Arkansas

Wilbur D. Mills Dam is a steel dam and generating facility located on the Arkansas River in Arkansas County and Desha County, Arkansas, United States.

Newt Graham Lock & Dam

Newt Graham Lock & Dam is the final lock and dam of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) before reaching the western terminus, Tulsa Port of Catoosa on the Verdigris River. The lock and dam is 24.8 miles (39.9 km) downstream of the port.

Chouteau Lock & Dam dam in Oklahoma

Chouteau Lock & Dam, also identified as Chouteau Lock & Dam 17, is 17th lock and dam of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) from the Mississippi River to its terminus at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, and is the first lock and dam on the Verdigris River in Oklahoma, just above the Three Forks junction with the Arkansas River. The lock is about 4 miles (6.4 km) northwest of Okay in Wagoner County, Oklahoma. Construction of this facility started in 1966 and was completed in 1970. The estimated cost of Chouteau Lock & Dam was $ 31.8 million.

John Paul Hammerschmidt Lake is a reservoir on the Arkansas River and an integral part of the McClellan–Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS). It was formed by constructing the James W. Trimble Lock & Dam 13 across the river, near the city of Barling, Arkansas and extends upriver 26 miles (42 km) to W. D. Mayo Lock and Dam, which is located inside the state of Oklahoma. Although the Trimble facility was completed in 1969, it was not allowed to pass commercial barges until 1971, when upstream facilities were completed.


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