The incorporated town of Shamrock is situated in west-central Creek County at the junction of State Highways 16 and 99. Located approximately thirty-two miles from the county seat of Sapulpa, Shamrock received a postal designation on July 9, 1910, and was named by James M. Thomas for his hometown in Illinois. In 1908 Thomas had come to the Shamrock area from Parkland, Lincoln County, Oklahoma Territory (O.T.) and had established a store at the crossroads of an old cattle trail (possibly the West Shawnee Trail) and roads that diverged into O.T. At that time workers building an Oklahoma Natural Gas pipeline through the area brought the first prosperity to Shamrock. Other businesses soon opened. However, Shamrock received its greatest economic boost during the oil-boom years of the Drumright-Cushing Field.
Between 1915 and 1916 the Sapulpa and Oil Fields Railroad (later the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway) built a line northward from Depew to Shamrock. In 1916 the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway constructed a line that connected Shamrock and Drumright. The railroad depot building was painted green with white trim and had a shamrock (three-leaf clover) painted over the town's name. Because the railroad bypassed the town by three-quarters of a mile, citizens moved their establishments to the southeast, closer to the tracks. Most buildings were situated on the main street, Tipperary Road. Other streets had Irish names such as Dublin, Killarney, Blarney, and Cork. With the arrival of the railroads Shamrock developed as a shipping point for oil-field equipment and crude oil.
The Shamrock Townsite Company sold the first town lot in November 1915. The Shamrock Brogue newspaper was first published on January 1, 1916, and the Shamrock Blarney was first printed on March 9, 1916. Both were succeeded by the Creek County Democrat. By January 1, 1916, the town had approximately thirty buildings and amenities including gas, water, and telephones. The Citizens State Bank and the First State Bank had opened, and citizens passed a fifteen-thousand-dollar bond to construct a brick school building. On March 17, 1916, approximately five thousand participants observed the first St. Patrick's Day celebration. In honor of the event a 11,500-pound sandstone, quarried from a bluff at Spring Creek approximately five miles south of town, became a blarney stone. In addition to the oil and gas industry, the economy was supplemented by agriculture. In September 1916 the cotton gin processed approximately twenty-six wagonloads of cotton a day. A gin continued in operation into the mid-1950s.
During the oil boom the population fluctuated between ten and fifteen thousand. However, as the boom gradually subsided the population declined, as indicated by a recorded 1,409 in 1920 and 777 in 1930. The numbers dropped from 461 in 1940 to 204 in 1970. Due to waning economy and population, the railroad abandoned its line in October 1957, and the school closed in 1961. The 1980 and 1990 federal censuses reported 218 and 95, respectively. At the turn of the twenty-first century Shamrock had a population of 125. Its citizens continued to support an annual St. Patrick's Day parade.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: John W. Morris, Ghost Towns of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977). D. Earl Newsom, Drumright II (And Shamrock, Pemeta, Oilton, and Olive) A Thousand Memories (Perkins, Okla.: Evans Publications, 1987). Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2003). "Shamrock," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.
Linda D. Wilson
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