Paul E. Adams, North Little Rock, Arkansas. He spent a lifetime involved in the planning and operation of Arkansas navigable streams in the Little Rock District of the Corps of Engineers. After retirement, he was director of the Arkansas Waterways Commission. He served as chief of basin planning and reports and was deeply concerned with construction of the McClellan-Kerr navigation System. During his service with Corps of Engineers, he was responsible for development of much of the economic data that justified the navigation project and its continued planning. National known, his voice on water resource development was heard and followed throughout the nation. After retiring from the Arkansas Waterways Commission, he worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen the navigation system. The people in the Arkansas River Valley owe him a special debt of gratitude for his longtime devotion to the nation's waterways and especially the navigation system.
John C. "Jack" Murray, Little Rock, Arkansas. Although he was better known for his work on rail freight rates as traffic consultant to the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, his great dream was to see the Arkansas River made navigable. Murray Lock and Dam is named after him. His efforts on behalf of the project and his work with the National Rivers and Harbors Congress and the project and his work with the National Rivers and Harbors Congress and the Mississippi Valley Association, helped keep the navigation project alive when public interest began to wane. He came to Little Rock in 1925 and became the state's outstanding expert on commercial traffic as related to economic data contributed immeasurably to the Arkansas River navigation project. "He knew his field so well that he could explain the utmost complexities in simple language," the Arkansas Democrat newspaper editorial said when he died in 1956.
William H. Kennedy, Jr., Little Rock, Arkansas. He was an dedicated leader for the Arkansas Basin Association in Arkansas in supporting the navigation system. He later became chairman of the Arkansas Waterways Commission and continued his effort on behalf of navigation. He was one of the few who helped turn a dream into practical, growing, profitable, everyday, reality. When Congress approved the navigation system, he knew the annual flood threat had been transformed into a perennial asset for this city and for towns up and down the once feared Arkansas River. He had been chairman of the board of Worthen Banking Corp. and National Bank of Commerce and was the First Arkansan to be elected President of the American Bankers Association. He was named as one of the three most influential men in finance in the nation by US. News and World Report in 1983.
David D. Terry, Little Rock, Arkansas. He was one of the early leaded in the battle against skepticism and strong opposition at the time to win authorization of the Arkansas River Navigation Project. He was a U.S. Representative in Congress from 1933 through 1942. During the time, he worked continuously with Corps of Engineers to obtain river related projects for Arkansas including levees along the Arkansas River, the North Little Rock seawall, bank stabilization and the Nimrod and Blue Mountain- dams. In 1943, he was appointed by the Governor to the original Arkansas-Oklahoma Interstate Committee for the development of the river. He also was an active member of the Arkansas Basin Association over the years and made numerous trips to Washington, D.C. and elsewhere in support of the project. He also served as director of Flood Control, Water and Soil Conservation of the Sate Resources and Development Commission. His lifetime dream was realized when he saw for himself, shortly before his death, that construction of Dardanelle Lock and Dam was actually underway.
James O. "Jim" Foster, Wichita, Kansas. He became active in the Arkansas Basin Development Association in the 60's while serving as executive secretary of the Arkansas City Chamber of Commerce. He worked with Stanley Spencer, Hall of Fame member, in securing the support of Arkansas City and Winfield and with the business leaders and the general public of the area for flood control at Arkansas City; and for the support of the Arkansas River Navigation Project before there was any general understanding of its importance. He moved to Wichita in 1968 and was vice president for Public Affairs of the Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce where he joined Hall of Fame's Don Pray and Justus Fugate to win the city commission's support for the waterway. He made many trips to Washington to lobby Kansas Congressmen for their support of the navigation project. He was one of the organizers of the Mid-Ark Valley Development Association (MAVDA) which-lobbied to extend navigation to Wichita, and served as its president.
Carl Albert, McAlester, Oklahoma. Though Eufaula, largest of the lakes required for Arkansas River navigation, would flood thousands of acres of the best farm land in his district, Carl Albert supported the project from 1947 when he entered Congress until it was completed 23 years later. In 1956, Representative Albert had a key role in capitalizing on a revolt on the floor of the House of Representatives against the dominance of the Appropriations Committee chairman in water project funding which resulted in Congress voting funds to start construction of both Eufaula, in Oklahoma, and Dardanelle, largest of the navigation projects in the State of Arkansas. Two presidential vetoes had to be overcome and President Dwight D. Eisenhower persuaded to relax his opposition to projects he felt would commit the government to complete the $1.2 billion project, largest in the history of the Corps of Engineers up to that time, before he would let the spending start. In his autobiography, Albert wrote "There would be other fights, but none would be so hard and none would stop the project." In January 1971, within a few days of the arrival of the first barge shipment at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa from the Mississippi River, Albert was elected Speaker of the US. House of Representatives, an office he would hold for six years.
John H. Dunkin, Tulsa, Oklahoma He was the "heavy hitter" on a team of supporters headed by Newt Graham to promote navigation on the Arkansas River. He was co-manager and partner in a large department store that carried his name and was widely advertised in Oklahoma. When Newt Graham wanted a meeting to promote the Arkansas River Navigation project, he scheduled it at the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and had Dunkin as the speaker. He knew Dunkin would get a large audience and the speech would result in good news coverage. Dunkin visited waterways in Europe in some detail and realized what navigation could do on the Arkansas River. He was a forceful individual who helped Graham at a particular stage in his campaign to develop strong civic leadership for the navigation project. Oklahomans had thought of the Arkansas River project as a series of dams for flood control, but had not considered what navigation would do for the state. Dunkin spelled it out for them.
Elmer Thomas, Lawton, Oklahoma. The Arkansas Basin owes its first dams in Northeast Oklahoma to Elmer Thomas. With one two-year exception Thomas was an Oklahoma State Senator, member of Congress or U.S. Senator from statehood in 1907 until 1951. In a speech at Oklahoma City in 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the credit for Oklahoma obtaining the federal grant which financed construction of a dam on the Grand River to "my old friend, Senator Thomas. In later years, Thomas used his position as chairman, or ranking minority member of the sub-committee, of the Senate Committee on Appropriations--handling funds for the Army and Corps of Engineers--to literally write in provisions for the money which financed building of the Fort Gibson and Tenkiller projects and started Oologah. "I can get money for a dam easier than for my own breakfast" he once said. When President Harry S. Truman agreed passage of the Flood Control Act of 1946, Thomas was the Senate author of provisions that authorized development of the Arkansas River for navigation as well.
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