Jenks, Oklahoma

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Jenks is a city in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, United States, and a suburb of Tulsa, in the northeastern part of the state. It is situated between the Arkansas River and U.S. Route 75. Jenks is one of the fastest growing cities in Oklahoma. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 9,557, but by 2009, the population was estimated at 16,143.



Jenks began in 1904 as a community site established by the Midland Valley Railroad between Tulsa and Muskogee, alongside the Arkansas River. Though the river could only be utilized by shallow draft steamboats while the water level was up, these two transportation routes proved vital to Jenks' early development.

Jenks was named after the director of the Midland Valley Railroad.[citation needed]

In 1905, a major petroleum discovery was made, further bolstering the economy of the area. The "Glenn Pool" oil well and subsequent oil claims brought many business people to the general area. In 1906, many oil depots (also known as "tank farms") were constructed in Jenks.

As oil production waned, tank farms were dismantled, and agriculture became once again a major contributor to the Jenks economy. The economy of the area was further improved in the 1920s when many Bulgarian families immigrated to the area to farm.

From 1904 through the 1950s, Jenks experienced many floods from the overflow of the Arkansas River and Polecat Creek. In the 1920s and 1930s floods were very severe. During one flood in the late 1920s the water was so deep that it completely covered every building but the roof of the three story high school. Everyone was evacuated except two men and one woman. They had one shotgun, one small boat, food and a tent on top of the school. They guarded the remains of Jenks for several weeks until the water receded.[citation needed] In 1948, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a levee around Jenks, and the community subsequently grew as a result of the increased safety and security.

Jenks has served as a river crossing point via several bridges over the past century. In 1910, a single-lane bridge was built and strengthened the economic success of the area. 1948 saw the construction of a replacement two-lane bridge which still stands today and now serves as a pedestrian crossing between the Riverwalk and the South Tulsa River Parks. The original 1910 bridge was destroyed and all that is left are a few columns and pieces of metal that are seen when the river is not filled with rain or water is not being released from the dam. A four-lane bridge was built in 1996.

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