Verdigris River

Last updated
Verdigris River
Van Horner Creek, Vermillion River, Wasetihoge River [1]
Verdigris River.jpg
The Verdigris River near Lenapah, Oklahoma
Map of the Verdigris watershed
Country United States
State Kansas, Oklahoma
Physical characteristics
Source confluence 
  location Madison, Kansas
  coordinates 38°09′08″N96°10′01″W / 38.15222°N 96.16694°W / 38.15222; -96.16694
  elevation1,090 ft (330 m)
Mouth Arkansas River
Muskogee, Oklahoma
35°48′01″N95°18′28″W / 35.80028°N 95.30778°W / 35.80028; -95.30778 Coordinates: 35°48′01″N95°18′28″W / 35.80028°N 95.30778°W / 35.80028; -95.30778 [1]
489 ft (149 m)
Length310 mi (500 km)
  location USGS 07176000 near Claremore, OK [2]
  average4,644 cu ft/s (131.5 m3/s)
  minimum3.4 cu ft/s (0.096 m3/s)
  maximum77,700 cu ft/s (2,200 m3/s)
Basin features
  right Fall River, Elk River, Caney River
Waterbodies Toronto Lake, Oologah Lake

The Verdigris River /ˈvɜːrdɪɡrɪs/ is a tributary of the Arkansas River in southeastern Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma in the United States. It is about 310 miles (500 km) long. [3] Via the Arkansas, it is part of the Mississippi River watershed.



The Verdigris is formed near Madison, Kansas, by the convergence of two short headwaters streams, its North and South forks, and flows generally southward throughout its course. South of Coffeyville, Kansas, the river enters Oklahoma. It joins the Arkansas River near Muskogee, Oklahoma, about a mile upstream of the mouth of the Neosho River. The area of convergence of the three rivers Arkansas, Verdigris and Neosho is called "Three Forks".


The river is mentioned in accounts by Zebulon Pike (1806), Thomas Nuttall (1818). Fur traders had numerous posts along its route where they met with Native Americans to exchange goods for furs. The river is also mentioned in the novel Little House on the Prairie (1935) by Laura Ingalls Wilder, of her memories when her family moved to Kansas from Wisconsin.

The name is derived from the Spanish words verde, meaning "green," and gris, meaning "grey." According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, the name may be derived from a gray-green substance resembling a copper ore, which tinged the water. [4] In the U.S. treaty of 1834 with the Cherokee Indians, the river was named as a part of the boundary of their lands in the Indian Territory. [5]

In 1994, Tom Paxton wrote and recorded a song: Along the Verdigris, celebrating its rural tranquillity, on his Album Wearing The Time. [6]

In July 2007, Coffeyville Resources suffered flooding at its refinery at Coffeyville by the Verdigris River, causing a spill of about 1,700 barrels of crude oil. [7] The company made efforts to ameliorate the damage.

On May 25, 2019, Rogers County sent out a civil authority message to all radios In Washington County, Tulsa County, and other counties about the river rising rapidly.

Dams and transportation

Several dams built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cause the Verdigris to form Toronto Lake near Toronto, Kansas and Oologah Lake near Oologah, Oklahoma. More dams and reservoirs are downstream along the Arkansas River.

From just north of Catoosa, Oklahoma to the river's confluence with the Arkansas, barge traffic is supported on the river via the McClellan-Kerr Navigation System. This consists of a series of locks and dams on the Arkansas and the Verdigris rivers; this system enables commercial navigation between the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area and the Mississippi River, and thence to the Gulf of Mexico.


In Kansas, the Verdigris collects the Fall River at the town of Neodesha and the Elk River at the town of Independence. In Oklahoma it collects the Caney River in Rogers County.

Cities and towns along the river

See also

Related Research Articles

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Coffeyville, Kansas City in Kansas, United States

Coffeyville is a city in southeastern Montgomery County, Kansas, United States, located along the Verdigris River in the state's southeastern region. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 10,295. It is the most populous city of Montgomery County and with its southeast Kansas location is in the Tulsa, Oklahoma media market. The town of South Coffeyville, Oklahoma is approximately 1 mile south of the city.

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Oologah Lake

Lake Oologah is a reservoir in northeastern Oklahoma. It is located near the towns of Oologah, Nowata, and Claremore. The lake has a surface of 29,500 acres (119 km2) of water and 209 miles (336 km) of shoreline with 11 lake-side parks. The water storage capacity is rated as 552,210 acre feet (681,140,000 m3). The lake is formed along the Verdigris River, and is a source of water for the Tulsa Metropolitan Area. The purpose of the dam and lake is flood control, water supply, navigation, recreation, and fish and wildlife.

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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.

2019 Arkansas River floods

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  1. 1 2 "Verdigris River". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey . Retrieved 2015-11-03.
  2. "Water-Data Report 2013 - 07176000 Verdigris River near Claremore, OK" (PDF). U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
  3. U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map Archived 2012-04-05 at WebCite , accessed May 31, 2011
  4. Britannica Online Encyclopaedia. "Verdigris River." Accessed September 4, 2011.
  5. ""Verdigris River," Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history". Archived from the original (English) on 2006-12-30. Retrieved 2007-03-14.
  6. Tom Paxton: album Wearing The Time, 1994, Sugar Hill Records
  7. Environmental News Service. "Raging Floodwaters Cause Kansas Refinery Oil Spill." July 3, 2007. Accessed September 4, 2007.