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Sayre

Oklahoma Flag

Main Street On Historic Route 66

Sayre. Visit its Historic sites, Listed in the National Register of Historic Places: Rock Island Depot, with the local Shortgrass Country Museum, the Beckham County Courthouse, the Champin Service Station, the Sayre Downtown Historic District with the Owl Drugstore & Soda Fountain and the (1910) Old Boggs Hotel and the town's Historic Park. The unique Pedestrian underpass, under Route 66; and dont' miss the Black Kettle National Grassland Outdoor Area.

Sayre OK

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About Sayre, Oklahoma

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 1,808 ft (551 m). Population: 4,375 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

Sayre is the county seat of Beckham County, in western Oklahoma, roughly halfway between Oklahoma City, and Amarillo, Texas along Route 66 and I-40, its motto is: "Main Street On Historic Route (66)"

As time goes by in Sayre, Route 66 fades away...Spence & Russell Standard Station

Spence & Russell Standard Station, Sayre OK. Postcard 1960s
Spence & Russell Standard Station, Sayre OK, in the 1960s, Sayre, Oklahoma
by James R. Powell Route 66 Collection, Lake County Discovery Museum
Spence & Russell Standard Station building in 2008
Spence & Russell Standard Station building still standing in 2008, Sayre, Oklahoma, by Google
Spence & Russell Standard Station building razed in 2013
Spence & Russell Standard Station building razed in 2013, Sayre, Oklahoma, by Google

Click on the two lower images for Interactive Google Street View

Spence & Russel Standard Station

The postcard pictured at the top, had the following text printed the back of the card: "Spence & Russell Standard Station 'Friendly Service Since 19490' Known from Coast to Coast for quality products and guaranteed service. Full line of Atlas tires, batteries, and accessories. Western souvenirs and curios. Decals of all 50 states. Tourist supplies, maps, and highway information. Clean Rost Rooms Open 24 hours Phone WA 8-2370 East Highway 66 Sayre, Oklahoma".

It was located on the south side of Route 66 northeast of Sayre between Wade and N. Watts St. It was still there in 2008, but the building was demolished in 2013 to make way for "progress", another icon of Route 66 gone forever.

See Credits below, for full details on the postcard and its location.

The Western part of Oklahoma has been inhabited for more than thousand years, however the first records date back to 1541 when Spanish explorer Francisco de Coronado passed through the region seeking for "Quivira", a mythical city of gold.

The U.S. government relocated to Oklahoma Native Amerian tribes from eastern US (from Ohio to Delaware to Florida) in the mid 1800s. Later natives from other parts west of the Mississippi River were moved to Reservations in the "Indian Territory", as Oklahoma was known in those days.

However, in the 1880s the government's policy changed. It decided that the natives had to be assimilated. This led to the dissolution of the Reservations. The individual tribe members were each given a plot of 160 acres and the government purchased the rest of the land creating a vast surplus territory that was "opened" to settlement to non-natives.

The land around Sayre was settled in the 1892 Cherokee & Arapaho Opening, but as with most towns along Route 66 in this part of Oklahoma, the townsite was the outcome of the railway expansion westwards, into Texas, heading towards the Pacific.

There were some two hundred settlers in the area at the time that the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad (later Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway) laid its tracks through it in 1901. The Choctaw Town Site and Improvement Company platted a town at a suitable site and sold lots to new settlers. The town was incorporated on 14 September 1901 and grew quickly.

The Name: Sayre

The town was named after Robert Heysham Sayre, of Pennsylvania the chief engineer and a stockholder of the Railroad.

The town was located on the north side of the North Fork of the Red River. Initially it was part of Roger Mills County, but in 1907 a new county was created by taking the southern portion of Roger Mills and the northern part of Greer County. Beckham county was formed and Sayre became the county seat in 1908 after defeating Erick.

It was a farming community that also processed cotton in its cotton gins. Oil was discovered in the 1920s and strenghthened the economy.

When Oklahoma Highway No. 3 was incorporated into US Route 66 in 1926 and aligned through Sayre, a steady flow of travelers passed through town, linking its Main Street to Route 66.

The award winning 1940 movie Grapes of Wrath, used Sayre's Beckham County Courthouse as a backdrop in the film.

Where to Stay

Book your hotel at Sayre

There are several hotels in Sayre

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>> There are RV campgrounds in Sayre.

Weather in Sayre

Western Oklahoma is a dry region. During summer it is warm and slightly wetter while winter is cool and dry, with occasional snow storms

Temperature: average high in summer (Jul) is 92.7°F (33.7°C) and the low is 68.1°F (20°C) . During winter (Jan), the average high 46.7° (8.2°C) is and the low is below freezing: 22.1°F (-5.5°C)

Rainfall is 28.7 inches per year (729 mm), reflecting the drier conditions of this part of Oklahoma.

Snow does fall in the area and it can be encountered between September and May (the first snow usually falls on the first week of December). Its altitude causes greater snowfall than locations further east: averaging 11” per year (with maximum values of about 40”) 27 to 102 cm.

Tornado risk

Sayre is located in Oklahoma's "Tornado Alley and experiences about 11 Tornado watches every year.

Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
 

Route 66 and Sayre Oklahoma
Location of Sayre, Route 66

Getting to Sayre

Heading east from Sayre down Route 66 are the towns of: Elk City (18 mi.) Canute (24 mi.), Foss (31 mi.), Clinton (45 mi.), Weatherford (61mi.) and even further, Oklahoma City (134 mi.)

To the west, is Erick (9 mi.) and the "last town in Oklahoma on Route 66": Texola (23 mi.). Further west, in Texas are the towns of: Shamrock (39 mi.), McLean (54 miles) and Amarillo (132 mi.).

Map of Sayre and Route66

in Oklahoma.

Pale Blue: Historic Route 66 alignment; Red line: Interstate highways, where they overlap the old alignment.

The Black: line shows the 1926-1932 alignment from Bridgeport through Geary and Calumet.

  Click to See the Eastern Oklahoma alignment

See Route 66's alignment in Texas

Remove or restore State shading
 

Google Maps. Terms. Icons.

Route 66 itinerary to Sayre

Route 66 logo

Route 66 in Oklahoma

Click to read the Full description of Route 66 across Oklahoma.

Below we give information on Route 66's 1926 alignment near Sayre.

Sayre, Oklahoma: Attractions & Sights

Things to Do and See

Sayre, almost a Ghost Town, its Attractions

Sayre is "Main Street On Historic Route 66"

Visit its Historic sites, Listed in the National Register of Historic Places: Rock Island Depot, with the local Shortgrass Country Museum, the Beckham County Corthouse, the Champin Service Station, the Sayre Downtown Historic District with the Owl Drugstore & Soda Fountain and the (1910) Old Boggs Hotel and the town's Historic Park. The unique Pedestrian underpass, under Route 66; and dont' miss the Black Kettle National Grassland outdoor area.

Historic sites in Sayre

Beckham County Corthouse, Sayre

Beckham County Courthouse in Sayre, Oklahoma

Beckham County Corthouse,A. Whittall

302 E. Main St., Sayre, OK

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Finished in 1911, it was filmed in a scene in the 1840 film "The Grapes of Wrath".

Topped by a large dome, the three-story Neoclassical building has stood for over one century as the center of Sayre's civic life. It was built in brick and stone and 12 Doric columns support the dome.

The movie "The Grapes of Wrath", by John Ford, based on Steinbeck's book features a scene with Sayre's corthouse in the background.

Champin Service Station

Sayre Champin Service Station

Sayre Champlin Service Station, A. Whittall

126 W Main St., Sayre, OK

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

A 1934 Route 66 service station on Sayre's Main Street. Built to serve locals and travelers on Route 66.

It is a one story building with concrete walls and large windows with a streamlined Art Moderne design, popular at the time.

Prince Brothers built the first service station and sold it to the Champlin Refining Co. in 1928 who ran it until I-40 drw customers away four decades later.

Sayre Downtown Historic District

Sayre Downtown Historic District

Sayre Downtown Historic District, A. Whittall

Main and 4th Streets, Sayre, OK

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

The heart of Sayre, the community's business center, with over 30 historic buildings erected between 1903 and 1952. Brick faced buildings with flat tops along Route 66.

The image depicts the Bank of Sayre, which opened on September 30, 1901, and remained viable as the Great Plains National Bank in 2000.

Owl Drug Store

Owl Drugstore and Soda Fountain, Sayre

Owl Drug Store, A. Whittall

4th and Main St. NW corner, Sayre, OK

A classic spot in the Historic Downtown District

The Pharmacy and Soda fountain has the longest antique soda fountain in Oklahoma. It operated from 1901 to 1992.

It is on the north side of the street, in front of the Bank.

Old Boggs Hotel

Old Boggs Hotel, Sayre, Oklahoma

The Old Boggs Hotel, A. Whittall

311 W Main St., Sayre, OK.

Vintage Route 66 Hotel

The hotel wasa built in 1910 and served the needs of Route 66 travelers for many years. It is on the western edge of the Historic District.

J.W. Danner House

408 N. 4th St., Sayre, OK

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

A concrete block home built in 1905.

See its Street View and location map.

Danner used rock-faced concrete blocks molded on site with an interlocking shape. It was used later in other buildings in Sayre. An innovative approach to building homes.

Sayre Rock Island Depot, and Museum

106 E Poplar, Sayre, OK

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Sayre Rock Island Depot, is the old (1927) Railway station and depot which now houses the local Museum.

See its Street View and location map.

It is a classic Railway station and depot built in 1927 by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. It replaced the old (1901) original railway staiton. It is a brick and stucco Italian Renaissance Revival building. The railroad gave it to the town in 1972 when passenger service ended. Today it houses the museum:

Shortgrass Country Museum

106 E Poplar, Sayre OK

Open since 1992. Artifacts, photographs and replicas of early the life in the shortgrass prairie during the early years.

Located in the old Railroad Depot. (580) 928-5757

Sayre City Park

I-40 and BK-Q, Sayre, OK. (NW corner of W Wade and Choctaw Ave.)

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

It was built by WPA (Works Progress Administration - a Federal employment plan) in 1940-41. It had campsite, gazebo and a Pueblo-Revival style bathhouse with a swimming pool. It even had a mini-golf, pump house, tennis courts and, for those traveling along Route 66: camping facilities, fire pits and picnic tables for those willing to stop, rest or spend the night.

See its Street View and location map.

Pedestrian Underpass

4th and Elm St., Sayre

An underground pedestrian underpass; a walkway used by pedestrians to cross under Route 66 which carried a lot of traffic in those days.

It was built in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Now it has a sign indicating it is a storm shelter (and steel doors for that purpose).

See its Street View and location map.

Tours & Itineraries

Nearby Route 66 Towns

Visit, to the east, the nearby towns of Elk City, Canute, Foss (almost a ghost town), Clinton and Weatherford. To the west is Texola, Erick and Shamrock (in Texas).

The Old alignment of Route 66 near Sayre

Route 66 West of Sayre to Texola

1926 to 1928: Unpaved

The first alignment of Route 66 between 1926 and 1928 was a dirt road which was never paved. Between Sayre and Texola it ran further south than current OK-66. Below we detail its course from Sayre:

It headed straight south along "Old Route 66", which is west of what today is US 283 (4th St.). After modern I-40, It took BK 21 which merged (now it does not) with US Hwy. 283, southbound. This was the old Postal Route. At E 1270 Rd. it took a right, heading west, through the town of Delhi. At BK 15 it took a right nortwards and then a left along BKW which then becomes E1260 Rd. At N Sheb Wooley Ave. it took a right and then a left at 12th St., just to the south east of Erick.

It bypassed the town and kept west along E 1250 Rd. until reaching N 1680Rd. where it took a right and at E 1240 Rd (Modern OK-66), IT turned left into Texola.

See the Map of this 1926 - 28 alignment between Sayre and Texola.

The 1929 alignment

South of Sayre it curved west (where the modern Exit 20 of I-40 is placed) and headed west, now incorporated into the westbound lanes of I-40. It was paved with asphalt over a concrete base in 1929 for 4.7 miles west of Sayre.

After 3 miles, just east of Hext, it kept straight (modern I-40 curves to the SW) and it ran close to the railway tracks.

Remains of Route 66

The original Portland Concrete road paved in 1929 and 1930 can still be seen, abandoned, a few feet north of the modern road along this segment.

At modern Exit 11, it kept straight, to the south of what is now I-40. Passed through Erick along the Roger Miller Blvd and kept west, all the way to Texola.

The 1929 alignment entered Texola along current OK-66 (E 1240 Rd.), now a 4-lane road, but when it was built, it was a 2-lane highway. It was paved from Erick to Texola in 1931, with Portland concrete (an original segment can be seen on the south of the modern highway -see map). Later when the road was upgraded, the original paved segment became the westbound lanes east of Texola.

See the Map of 1929 alignment

Later upgrades

In 1958 the road was moved east, along Modern US 283 on 4th St. and used Carmichael Bridge (1958). The old road ends at the river.

West of Sayre it was upgraded to 4 lanes in 1956, the modern westbound lanes of I-40 are the old eastbound lanes of US 66. The "Hext" sector was upgraded to four lanes in 1955-56 by adding the estbound lanes to the original road. This section was bypassed by I-40 in 1975.

South of Exit 11, it became a 4-lane road in 1956 all the way to Texola. In 1975 I-40 bypassed it. And it was named Bus 40.

I-40 bypassed Sayre in 1970.

West of Texola, the road in 1926 followed the section line and zig zagged to avoid crossing the tracks (see map US 66 west of Texola).

National and State Parks

Black Kettle National Grassland

Black Kettle National Grassland

Black Kettle National Grassland, Public Domain

OK-47 and OK-47A, Cheyenne, Oklahoma (see Map and Directions)

The Grassland is located 30 miles north of Sayre and covers about 30,000 acres of rolling hills, wetlands and prairies cut by serveral rivers and streams. Ideal for hicking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing.

There are deer, turkey, geese, coyotes and bobcats.

Three lakes are used for swimmng, fishing and watersports.

Free admission. More information Park Website, (580) 497-2143.

Lodging in nearby Sayre, Cheyenne and Elk City.

History

It was the home of the Comanche Indins who hunted and camped in the area. The area was a Cheyenne and Arapaho Reservation in 1867, and the following year Lt. Col. A. Custer attacked a Cheyenne village ("Battle of Washita") killing the chief Black Kettle (1803-1868) and more than 100 Native Americans.

It was later opened to White settlers in 1892 and after the drought of the 1930s (Dust Bowl) it was bought back by the government for restoration and designated a national grassland in 1960.

Sources

Linda D. Wilson, "Sayre". Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, www.okhistory.org

Sayre website www.sayrechamber.com

The postcard is from the James R. Powell Route 66 Collection at the Lake County Discovery Museum, view it online, under Fair Use.

Image in the Public Domain

Original artwork by A. Whittall based on Google Street View Imagery.

Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.

Image by Vítězslav Válka adapted under its CC BY-SA 3.0 CZ License

Map Icons by Nicolas Mollet under its CC BY SA 3.0 License