What do a river, a railroad, oil, farming, antiques and an aquarium have in common? They all played a major role in the evolution of Jenks, a vibrant community on the Arkansas River just southwest of Tulsa.
Although its location on the river was advantageous, it was the Midland Valley Railroad that put Jenks on the map. The town was established in 1905 as a weigh station for the railroad. It wasn't long, however, before oil was discovered nearby, and Jenks became the site of “tank farms” to store the black gold.
The oil fields eventually played out, and farming became the area's economic mainstay; cotton, vegetables, dairy cattle and livestock production were prominent players.
Two more recent developments, though, are responsible for luring visitors to the city. The early 20th-century brick buildings on Main Street began to be filled with antique stores, adding to downtown's turn-of-the-century, country-style charm. The town claims to be known as the Antique Capital of Oklahoma.
The second development, the decision to build the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks, though, was a major coup. The attraction, on the west bank of the Arkansas River, draws close to a half-million visitors to the city each year.
If you want to do some shopping, grab a bite or just plain relax after your aquarium visit, head to Riverwalk Crossing, a trendy entertainment district overlooking the river. You might even be able to catch some live music at the outdoor amphitheater.