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History of Jenks, Oklahoma - JULY 15, 1905

Jenks was geographically located on two major transportation routes. A cooperative agreement between the Midland Valley Railroad and the Midland Valley Townsite Company established a community site along the railroad which was constructed in 1904 between Tulsa and Muskogee. The future community's location was further enhanced by the proximity of the Arkansas River which was navigable by shallow draft steam boats when the river level was high. The new town was most influenced by the railroad and took its name from a director of the railroad who lived in Philadelphia.

Agriculture, oil, and the railroad were the primary economic forces in the town's early history. The discovery of oil nearby in 1905 greatly effected Jenks' early development. In 1906 oil tank farms were constructed near Jenks to store oil. The expensive tank farms increased the area property valuation and contributed considerable revenue to the Jenks school district.

As nearby oil fields played out, tank farms were dismantled and farming regained importance. The role of agriculture in the area was further strengthened with the immigration to the Jenks area of a sizable settlement of Bulgarian farmers and their families in the 1920's. Truck farming, live stock production, and dairying became the dominant activities.

Although the Arkansas River was not used primarily for water transportation its role was significant as it related to river crossings. The first Jenks single lane bridge across the Arkansas River was built in 1910 to be replace in 1948 with a two-lane bridge. In 1996 a four-lane bridge connected Jenks with South Tulsa.

In addition to these local roadways, Jenks has benefited from the construction of U. S Highway 75 and the construction of the Creek Turnpike.

During the first 50 years of its history, Jenks endured a number of floods to the original townsite caused by the overflow of the Arkansas River and Polecat Creek. In 1948 the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers built a levee around Jenks which brought new security to its inhabitants, making Jenks a "dry-land town". The population of Jenks was now 1,500 people.

From the beginning, Jenks Schools have played an influential role within the community, and this role was extended over time northwestward and eastward into Tulsa which the school district also encompassed. Whether in academics or sports Jenks Public Schools has been a statewide leader in Oklahoma's public education.

Over the years several milestones have contributed to the continued growth of Jenks beyond the original townsite. The Tulsa water system and a gas-fired electric generating plant by the Public Service Company of Oklahoma came to Jenks in the early 1970's. In the mid-1980's the $167,000,000 Kimberly-Clark manufacturing facility was added to the Jenks tax base and the number and quality of neighborhoods were expanded.

With an excellent industrial tax base, an outstanding school district, quality housing, an advantageous location within the Tulsa metropolitan area, and citizens who maintain small town values, Jenks continues to grow. At a population of 10,000 Jenks today offers just plain "down home" living.