Clarence Byrns, of Fort Smith, Arkansas. He was the editor of the Fort Smith Southwest-Times Record. He was called the "Father of the Arkansas River Project" by those in Arkansas. He wrote editorials for four decades promoting navigation on the Arkansas River. He saw the economic benefits Oklahoma and Arkansas would attain from navigation and flood control on the river. A bridge across the river a short distance from Fort Smith is named for him. He was president of the Arkansas Basin Association and a member of the Bi-State Committee. Newt Graham of Tulsa and Reece Caudle of Arkansas worked with him to achieve navigation on the Arkansas River when few others believed it was possible.
Reece A. Caudle, of Scottsville and Russelville, Arkansas. He was an attorney and State Legislator and Speaker of the Arkansas House, and became involved in the River in 1933 following the first hearings after the Flood of 1933. At that time, he along with Stickey Meeks and Senator Kerr began lobbying for flood control on the River. Mr. Caudle funded the Arkansas Basin Association and stayed active until he was killed in an automobile accident in the 1950's. He made numerous trips to Washington, D.C. to promote harnessing the river, in an era when the trip took two days by train.
Col. (Ret.) Charles D. Maynard, of Little Rock, Arkansas. District Engineer in charge of construction of all locks and dams in Arkansas from 1962-65. Col. Maynard was President of the Arkansas Basin Association from 1972-77. He was chairman and member of the Tri-state Committee for 10 years. He was past Chairman and President of Water Resource Association, 1972-73, and a member of Montgomery Point Lock and Dam Coalition for the past three years. He also chaired the Arkansas Waterways Commission from 1980-81 and was a member from 1974-81 and 1988 to the present.
Senator John L. McClellan (D-AR, 1896-1977), Sheridan, Arkansas. Leader in Congress, he wrote the original letter to President F. Roosevelt seeking his help in getting the project authorized. Senior member of Appropriations Committee, responsible for obtaining funding and personally secured from President Lyndon Johnson, $15,000,000 supplemental appropriation in 1964, keeping the project on schedule.
Robert Nabholz, Conway, Arkansas. Former President of Arkansas Basin Association, former member and Chairman of Tri-State committee, Director of Water Resource Congress. Former member and Chairman of Arkansas Waterways Commission. Currently member of Executive Committee of Arkansas Basin Association. Active since 1963.
Lt. Gen.(Ret.) Eugene B. Reybold, He was Chief of Engineers and overrode the decision of the Engineer Board of Rivers and Harbors and recommended the authorization and funding of the Arkansas River Navigation Project. He came to Little Rock in 1937 to organize the Corps of Engineers Southwestern Division, with the title of Division Engineer. The study was underway at the time for authorization of the navigation project. During his three years as Division Engineer, he wrote a record of major achievements which won outspoken appreciation of civil and commercial leaders. Comprehensive flood control plans for the Arkansas and White Rivers were set up and construction projects totaling $430 million were started, authorized or recommended to Congress during this tour.
Jeta Taylor, Ozark, Arkansas. Vocal leader of forces seeking funding through the years and financial support. Chairman of Tri-State Committee and Committee member for years. President, Arkansas Basin Association.
Taylor Peckham, of Augusta, Kansas. He became involved in river affinities as far back as 1952, as a member of the Walnut Valley Development Association. When ABDA was organized he immediately became involved, serving as a director and one of the members of the contingents traveling to Washington for Congressional hearings. He was one of the early and very active supporters of the El Dorado Dam and Reservoir.
Don Pray, The Wichita, Kansas businessman was the first Wichitan to attend a meeting of the Arkansas Basin Development Association in Tulsa. He knew Tulsa would reap more benefits from extension of navigation into Kansas than Wichita but he was interested in the extension. He was the first president of the Mid-Arkansas Valley Development Association, Inc. (MAVDA), a nonprofit organization formed to determine the engineering and economic feasibility of extending navigation to Wichita from Tulsa. He loaned the MAVDA $15,000 to complete the first stages of the study, which cost $40,000. He was repaid completely. He made many trips to Washington to attend congressional hearings. His papers fill several shelves in the archives at Wichita State University.
Stanley Spencer, of Arkansas City, Kansas. He was one of the early supporters of the Kaw Dam, even before the navigation project came was approved. He was one of the organizers, and a president, of MAVDA, the Mid-Arkansas Valley Development Association, Inc. He was one of the earliest members and supporters of the Arkansas Basin Development Association (ABDA) and a frequent participant in trips to Washington to take part in hearings in support of the Corps projects in the Tulsa District. His papers are filed in the archives at Wichita State University along with those of Don Pray.
Congressman Page Belcher (R-OK): Elected to Congress in 1950, he served 11 terms until his retirement in 1972. From 1952 until 1967, he was the only Republican from Oklahoma in either House or Congress. During the 1950's, after President Eisenhower vetoed a bill carrying money for the Arkansas River Navigation System, he met with the President and told him he would lose his seat to a Democrat unless money was in the budget for the Project. The money was put in the budget, thus keeping the Project on schedule. He is generally regarded as the man who kept the Project alive. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1965.
Congressman Ed Edmonson (D-OK), Elected to the US. House of Representatives in 1952. He served for many years on the House Public Works Committee and Insular Affairs Committee. Congressman Edmondson was a leader and active supporter of construction and funding for the Arkansas River Multi-Purpose Project.
Newt Graham, He was responsible for obtaining a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in Tulsa. He was the acknowledged leader in the Arkansas River Valley for comprehensive development of the river. He devoted a half-century of volunteer effort to the navigation project. Lock No. 18 on the Verdigris River portion of the Navigation System is named Newt Graham Lock and Dam. He lived to see the actual construction begin on Keystone, Eufaula and Oologah Dams. He was Vice President of the Arkansas Basin Development Association; Vice Chairman of the Oklahoma State Planning and Resources Board; member of the Interstate Compact and Chairman of the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce Committee determined to develop water resources in the area.
Senator Robert S. Kerr (D-OK, 1896-1963), was ranking Democrat and Chairman of the Rivers and Harbors Subcommittee, and acknowledged "King of the U. S. Senate." Kerr was a major force behind conception and development of the Navigation System. His friendship with President Truman provided the leverage with which he was able to get the Arkansas River Multi-Purpose Project authorized in 1946 while he was still Governor of Oklahoma. He was also named to the the National Petroleum Hall of Fame and the National Rivers Hall of Fame.
Glade R. Kirkpatrick. He made countless trips to Congress to present testimony in support of the Arkansas River Navigation Project. His efforts, as well as others, were largely responsible for keeping the appropriations coming to complete the navigation system. He has spent a large portion of his life promoting the development of water resources in our nation, the Arkansas River Basin and the City Tulsa. He has served as president and chairman of the Arkansas Basin Development Association; a member of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board for 16 years; and a board member of the City of Tulsa-Rogers County Port Authority.
Don McBride, State Water Engineer in the 1930's and 40's. He was head of the Oklahoma State Planning and Resources Board from 1944 to 1946. He served as Secretary-Manager of the National Reclamation Association. He was a special administrative assistant to Senator Robert S. Kerr for 14 years and then joined Senator Monroney's staff after Kerr's death in 1963. He is credited with the technical guidance and handling of the authorization and funding of the multi-purpose project at the congressional level. He also served as one of three Tennessee Valley Authority Board members from 1966 to 1975.
Col. Francis J. "Babe" Wilson was District Engineer of the Tulsa District of the Corps from 1942-1946. He was executive director of the Arkansas River Basin Development Association from 1952 until 1969 when he retired. He then served as a consultant on Water Resource matters. As District Engineer, he directed a report which called for the multi-purpose development of the Arkansas River. This plan was adopted by Congress and formed the basis Or the navigation project which now exists.
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