A section of rolling whitewater in the Arkansas River, known for years to the kayakers that flocked to it as the “Tulsa wave,” is receiving a much needed spark from the local power station. After years of effort and preparation, Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) is set to dedicate a whitewater recreation area called “Tulsa Wave Park” Tuesday, October 3 at 3:00 pm on the west bank of the Arkansas River, just east of PSO’s Tulsa Power Station at 3600 S. Elwood Ave.
“With Tulsa kicking off Oklahoma’s Centennial celebration this November, we are excited to add to the festivities by making this PSO’s Centennial gift to the city,” said Bill McKamey, PSO vice president, External Affairs.
PSO began work last fall on a series of improvements to create the whitewater recreation area, including grading and stabilizing a 150-foot section of the west bank of the river and the construction of a path and dock for kayakers to safely enter the water.
This unique section of rolling whitewater, known as the “Tulsa wave” since the 1970s, is created by the combination of natural rock shoals and an old cofferdam built by PSO in the 1920s, which diverts large amounts of water toward these shoals and creates waves that are ideal for kayaking. There is also a unique circulation of water, which allows kayakers to paddle back upstream and ride the waves again without leaving the water.
“People looking across from the east bank of the river may not know, but there is a roar of water along the west bank, just outside our Tulsa Power Station,” said McKamey. “The area is great because the waves are predictable, of a size kayakers respect, and there are no obstacles to dodge.”
Dave Reid, a longtime kayaker and supporter of the wave park, agrees, saying it’s a dream come true for area white water paddlers.
“We’ve worked for years to get this one-of-a-kind water feature developed and protected,” said Reid. “This unique sports feature will make Tulsa more attractive to outdoor oriented people, will be an excellent draw for people using the River Parks path and, hopefully, will become a destination spot for white water paddlers.”
PSO, a unit of American Electric Power, is an electric utility company serving approximately 514,000 customers in eastern and southwestern Oklahoma. Based in Tulsa, PSO has more than 4,000 megawatts of generating capacity and offers some of the lowest energy prices in the US.