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'Good for town’s growth': Locals react to growing Port of Inola amid new railroad

port of inola verdigris southern railroad
Posted at 5:51 AM, Jun 05, 2024

INOLA, Okla. — Lots of growth keeps coming to the Inola area, as the Tulsa Port of Inola plans to celebrate the opening of a new cargo railway on June 5.

It’s a quiet town of about 1,800 people surrounded by farmland, which has grown steadily over the past four decades.

The Port of Inola keeps building up, and new infrastructure, such as the new Verdigris Southern Railroad, is attracting more companies to the area.

2 News popped inside a local nutrition shop downtown and spoke with the owner and one of her customers.

They both told us Inola is a friendly town with a lot to offer and a lot to gain.

Jet Powers, who was raised in Inola, said he thinks “it’s good for the growth of the town because it’s kind of a hidden town.”

“If you’re driving on the highway, you don’t know it’s here until you exit off,” he added. “If they’re bringing businesses in, it’ll be good for all the growth and the wealth of this town. So, I mean, we definitely could use it.”

Marissa Lay owns Inola Nutrition and commutes from Bartlesville for work. She told us the town has a certain charm that drew her in, saying, “Inola is such a small-town community. Everybody knows each other, and that’s what I love about Inola.”

“I also love that growth is coming and giving the opportunity for Inola to grow,” she noted, adding that this charm will help the town down the line.

“I feel like Inola is a great town, and I feel like anything we can do to help it grow will just make the town better,” she said. “I feel like the people are gonna take everything—new people coming in—and just welcome them just like they welcomed us.”

Funded by the state and federal governments and the private sector, the 4.4-mile Verdigris Southern Railroad will link the port and Sofidel America to Union Pacific’s other rail lines and provide rail connection for future companies who move to the industrial park.

The Port of Inola, along with the Port of Catoosa, connects businesses in northeast Oklahoma with international shipping lanes, making it cheaper to ship large amounts of goods and materials over long distances. Because the barges carry so much cargo, 12 of them remove more than 700 semi-trucks from the roads.
One official from Tulsa Ports Port Authority told us last week that they hope to bring more housing and amenities, such as childcare, to the area as they continue building up the Port of Inola.

It’s not a coincidence that June 5’s ribbon-cutting falls on the same day in 1971 that then-President Richard Nixon dedicated the Port of Catoosa. State and business leaders will join Tulsa Ports officials at the ceremony.


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