Watco Adds Verdigris Southern to It’s Portfolio of Railroads

Written by David C. Lester, Editor-in-Chief
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PITTSBURG, Kan. –– Railroad holding company Watco, which operates 45 short line railroads, has added a new line to its portfolio –– the Verdigris Southern (VESO), the company's 46th road.

The VESO is a 3-mile line that serves the Port of Inola in Oklahoma. The Tulsa Port of Inola is just east of Tulsa and connects with the Verdigris River.

According to a Watco, the VESO currently provides switching and interchange services for one customer, a paper products company, and they received their first seven boxcars of compressed wood pulp in mid-April. Operations kicked off after the port completed the replacement or rehabilitation of nearly all the rail inside the park.

The port is owned by the Tulsa Port Autuority, which also manages the Tulsa Port of Catoosa. That facility is only about 15 miles away, and is served by Watco’s South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad (SKOL). [Ed. Note: SKOL is one of our Top Projects honorees and is profiled in the June 2024 digital edition on pages 12 & 21]. The Port of Inola interchanges with Union Pacific, but SKOL recently transferred a locomotive there to provide service inside the park. The crew from the SKOL’s Owasso depot switches cars as needed.

Watco Sales Director Casey Harbour says “This customer is new to rail, so there’s been a learning curve. They’ve been happy with the results so far and plan to transition more over to rail. Our goal is to provide service five days a week from a dedicated VESO team.”

Harbour says there’s also potential for outbound shipments of the toilet paper, facial tissue, and paper towels the current customer produces. And there is plenty of room for growth. The port has more than 1,100 acres ready for development, with truck and barge access as well.

Harbour added that “Getting started at the Port of Inola has been a six- or seven-year project. We’re excited that it’s finally happening and can’t wait to continue to grow with the current customer, Tulsa Port Authority, and new customers as they arrive.”

Construction on SKOL’s Cow Creek Bridge Photo courtesy of Watco

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