Friday, June 7, 2013

#76: A Working Port

Tulsa Port of Catoosa

I was unexpectedly excited to see a working port. I was hoping my enthusiasm would be contagious. We first visited the Port Authority office where we stepped into a small museum which told us of the port's history.

The Tulsa Port of Catoosa is slightly older than me, as it was dedicated in June of 1971. The 2,500-acre industrial park is located at the head of navigation for the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, which stretches from Catoosa to the Mississippi, 445 miles away. Travelling at 6 to 10 miles per hour, it a takes approximately 10 days for cargo to reach New Orleans from Catoosa. Shipping cargo by barge is cheaper than other means of transportation, at about one-third the cost of railway and one-fifth as much as by truck. Barges vary in size, but an average barge is 35 feet wide and 195 feet long, carrying approximately 1,500 tons of cargo (as much as 50 semis or 15 rail cars.) The port is one of the nation's largest and most inland ice-free ports.

This animated model demonstrated how a lock works. Craig pushed a button which started the towboat pushing these four barges. It moved the barges into the lock, and river water began to "drain", thus lowering the water level for the barges to pass to the lower portion of the river. At the bottom, the towboat made a U-turn and pushed the barges back into the lock, which raised the water level for the barges to continue to the higher portion of the river. Since the Tulsa Port of Catoosa doesn't have a lock, I was happy that the museum had this visual model for the kids to see. I hope to one day visit the Newt Graham Lock and Dam, located near Inola, so that the kids can see it in action.

Just outside the Port Authority office, this towboat was on permanent display.

Here is the real thing, at work in the port. The receptionist in the Port Authority office told us that we could take a driving tour through the port, and she handed us a paper tour guide which told us which way to go and what we would see. Driving into the port area, we saw a sign which told us that it was a secure area with a Marine Security Level 1. SuperD was hesitant to drive past the gate, but I insisted that we were following the tour map. I later found out that Marine Security Level 1 means that there is a significant risk of threat, and appropriate security measures are maintained at all times. Only authorized vehicles and personnel are supposed to be in that area. It worries me that we were told to drive through the area, and no one stopped us or questioned our authority during the 10 minutes we were there. Small signs along the way indicated we were still on the tour route. We were told by the receptionist not to get out of the car and take pictures. So the few pics I took are from our moving car.

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