|City/Town: • Shamrock|
|Location Class: • Church • Commercial • Disappearing Town • Jail|
|Year Built: • 1910 | Year Abandoned: • N/A|
|Photojournalist: • AbandonedOK Team • Emily Cowan|
Shamrock, Oklahoma began as a small farming town and area. The post office of Shamrock was established on July 9, 1910, the first postmaster was James M. Thomas. Thomas was responsible for making the decision on the town name and decided to name it after his hometown of Shamrock, Illinois. It became the ‘Irish Capital of Oklahoma’ sporting street names such as Ireland Ave, Dublin Ave, Kilarney Ave, Tipperary Road, and even in the beginning days St. Patricks Ave. By 1915 the town had a steady population growth with the Sapulpa and Oil Fields Railroad (later St. Louis and San Francisco Railway) building a line from Depew to Shamrock and a year later the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway constructed a line from Shamrock and Drumright.
Like many of the now disappearing towns in Oklahoma, the boom of Shamrock came when the Cushing Oil Field began to develop around 1915. The townsite soon shifted to the southern edge of the oil field and became a boomtown almost overnight with the population reaching 10-15,000. Nearby, oil-field camps called Dropright, Gasright, Alright, Downright, Damright and Justright sprung up in the vicinity. The Cushing Oil Field became one of the greatest oil discoveries producing 300,000 barrels a day. By 1919, the Cushing-Drumright area accounted for 17 percent of oil in the U.S. and 3 percent of world production becoming known as the “Pipeline Crossroads of the World.”
Shamrock began declining in the mid-1920s as oil-field workers began to move on to new boomtowns. Before long, stores, pool halls, hotels, and other businesses began to close as the nearby oil-field camps were left deserted. Houses were moved to new locations and business buildings stood closed up. By 1930 the population of Shamrock had decreased to about 700 persons. Though the Cushing oilfield continued to produce massive amounts of oil, the production had been mostly automated and the numbers of men were no longer needed. Today most of the original buildings are gone and the population of the town has fallen to just a few dozen.
Even though the population of the town is getting older and diminishing that doesn’t stop their annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. Taking pride in their Irish heritage and unique town name the parade in past years has included things such as Shriners in tiny cars, motorcycles, Wewoka Buffalo Soldiers, bagpipers and more. Senior citizens of the town gave away quilts and the Shamrock Volunteer Fire Department hosted an Irish Stew for attendees. The celebration dates back to the fifties and still happens today even with the towns further dwindling population.
Shamrock Museum (Open Saturday 10 am-4 pm Free)
The Shamrock Museum is one of the most unique museums you will ever see in a small town like this. Previously it was Mrs. Brown’s Store & Cafe, “The cafe was run by Ruth Brown, back in the day (mid-1960s) you could get a great hamburger, a slice of homemade cherry cream pie and a coke for less than a dollar. Their huge plate lunch was 65 cents and it was great food. I spent many an afternoon working for Joe Brown sorting glass pop bottles, carrying out and burning the days’ trash from the store, stocking the shelves and waiting on customers in the store” said Larry Pittser. Another former employee, Carla Stevens Ellis said “I worked at the cafe 4 hours during the rush hour and made $3.00 each day, but the main thing was I learned how to make those cherry cream pies. We enjoy them every holiday. I learned down-home cooking from Ruth, better than any cookbook on earth.”
In the late 1990s, it was transformed into the Shamrock Police Station and Museum. It was painted a vibrant green attracting everyone driving through the town, and still sports the unique shade making it unmissable. The police station came and went but the Shamrock Museum remains open to this day. It houses the town’s entire history and a collection of oddities and ends inside and out. The museum is free and open on Saturdays from 10 am-4 pm but appointments can be made on other days by calling 918-703-5464.
Built: ~1916 Abandoned: ~1927
The Shamrock jail is a bigger jail than your typical calaboose, surprising for what the town is now but an incite to what the town used to be. It is constructed of concrete with a barrel roof and consists of two cells each with two barred windows. The first mentioning of the jail in locals news comes in 1916 which is presumably the year it was built. The newspaper article of the story says this: In 1916 a gentleman by the name of Joseph Hunt was arrested for forgery and thrown into the Shamrock jail. Mr. Hunt cut his prison sentence short, quite literally by sawing the bars off of the window of the north cell in the two-celled jail. His escape was discovered at daybreak by his jailer and a twelve-inch hack saw was found in the cell. Quickly he was found with two companions hiding out in an abandoned house and arrested again by Deputy Sheriff Cliff Terry. He was returned to the Shamrock jail again, this time accompanied by his two hideout companions who were charged with aiding a fugitive. It can only be assumed one of the men assisted by passing the hacksaw through the jail barred windows in the middle of the night.
Mar 22, 1922- J.C. Clark of Whizbang has recently been sojourning at the Shamrock jail where his uncle resides. Before leaving the town he was in need of funds and passed a bad check for $20.75 onto W.P White, a jitney driver. He then proceeded to Bristow where he passed on another bad check for $85. The police succeeded in getting on the man’s track and Monday he was arrested by the Bristow officers and returned to Shamrock to face trial.
Jan 13, 1926 – Professor C.A. Caldwell, for two years head of the Shamrock schools, was sentenced to fifteen minutes in the Shamrock jail by a group of friends on a charge of “going to Sapulpa and getting married to Miss Bessie Black, of Shamrock, without the knowledge or consent of his friends, to which he pleaded guilty in a court composed of his friends. Caldwell served only three minutes, however as he succeeded in “breaking jail” and making his escape after his incarceration.
Fred Wensauer & Sons
Built: 1927 Abandoned: ~1940s
Built in 1927 of native rock, the famously photographed building that sits in Shamrock sports the name ‘Fred Wensauer & Sons’. Although the business venture was short-lived, Fred used to build batteries there but any more information on the business was not found. According to local historian Roy Willey, it was then sold to Artie E. Bray which again was a very short business tenure.
It was sold to Harold (Fay) Facker who turned it into the Central Chevrolet Company. This quickly became one of the hearts of the town, featuring hundreds of newspaper ads for the dealership. Mr. Facker had decades of experience in selling Chevrolets throughout the state. This location sold numerous models including ‘The COACH’, ‘The COUPE’ and ‘The SPORT CABRIOLET’ as well as a wide selection of parts. During this time Facker started another Central Chevrolet Company dealership in nearby Drumright. Continuing to sell at both dealerships before closing the Shamrock station presumably due to the declining population.
[Photograph 2012.201.B1164.0026], photograph, March 3, 1958; (https://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc612442/m1/1/?q=shamrock: accessed March 20, 2021), The Gateway to Oklahoma History, https://gateway.okhistory.org; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society.
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