History of Jenks

Nestled along the banks of the Arkansas River, Jenks has long been an attractive place to raise a family, start a business, explore the oceans or take a trip back to yesteryear.

Founded in 1905, Jenks was originally a small community established by an agreement between the Midland Valley Railroad and Midland Valley Townsite Company.

The area population exploded in 1906 with the discovery of the Glenn Pool oil field.

As the oil boom took hold, the expensive oil tanks and equipment increased area property values and produced revenue for the Jenks schools system.

Named for railroad official Elmer E. Jenks, the town endured a number of catastrophic floods during the early part of the twentieth century. This flooding led Jenks voters to pass a bond issue to fund the construction of levees, which were completed in 1948.

In 1986, Jenks worked to attract antique dealers to downtown in order to revitalize the area.

The venture proved so successful that Oklahoma’s then-first lady Shirley Bellmon declared Jenks to be the Antique Capital of Oklahoma.

Downtown Jenks has continued to succeed, hosting award-winning events like Art on Main in October and other events throughout the year.

In 2012, the city of Jenks added an arts component to the antiques district, creating Jenks’ Arts and Antiques District.

Today, the chamber, the JCCCF and other partners are working to increase the prevalence of art alongside the storied antique stores downtown.

In addition to being home to central campus of the nationally-recognized Jenks Public Schools, Jenks is also home to the largest bull sharks in captivity in the world at the Oklahoma Aquarium, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. The aquarium welcomes in hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.