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Shamrock

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Route 66: Shamrock, Texas

The town of Shamrock, on the rolling plains of the eastern Texas Panhandle straddling Historic U.S. Route 66. It is renowned for its historic CONOCO Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Café, an iconic Art-Deco building dating back to the Great Depression, listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Shamrock TX

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About Shamrock, Texas

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 2,343 ft. (714 m). Population: 1,910 (2010 census).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

Shamrock is located in Wheeler County, in the eastern region of the Texas Panhandle.

The Texas Panhandle is the northernmost region of the state of Texas, it spans 26 counties. Oklahoma lies to the north and east and New Mexico to the west.
It is a dry region with an average annual rainfall that drops from east to west, from 21.5 inches to 17 inches. The High Plains cover most of the Panhandle and the upper tributaries of the Red River and the Canadian River drain the region. Under the flat plains, the Ogallala Aquifer provides abundant water for irrigating the plains.

Trivia

The closing scenes of the film «Cast Away» (2000), show the character Chuck Nolan (played by Tom Hanks) on U.S. Route 83 close to I-40, in Shamrock.

Shamrock's History

Paleo-Indians dwelled here over 10,000 years ago and their stone tools have been found at the nearby site in Clovis NM. Later Spanish Conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado crossed the plains seeking the gold of mythical Eldorado. By the 1800s buffalo hunting Comanche and Kiowa Indians lived in the region but were displaced to reservations after the Red River War (1874 - 1875) and Fort Elliott was built in Wheeler to protect the pioneers.

Main Street Shamrock
Main Street of Shamrock, TX

Click on image for Interactive Google Street View

An Irish immigrant and sheep rancher, George Nickel used the name Shamrock when he applied to open a post office in 1890 some 6 miles from the current town's location. It was accepted by the postal officials but never opened. However the name lived on.

Shamrock (n.)
The word dates back to the 1570s. from Irish seamrog, diminutive of seamar clover and Gaelic seamrag trefoil.
The plant is native to Ireland and an emblem of the Green Island. One legend has it that Saint Patrick in AD 388 used it as a symbol of the Holy Trinity during his mission to heathen Ireland.

The Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railway reached the region in 1902 and named their stop Shamrock. A post office and a school soon opened next to it. Business followed and the town was incorporated in 1911.

Oil was discovered in the area in 1925 bringing wealth and growth to Shamrock. Route 66 was the town's main street, filled with diners, garages, filling stations and motels.

When I-40 skipped the city center, most of these businesses closed or moved out of town, to the bypass.

Natural gas, oil and cattle, and increasingly Road Trip Tourism are the main pillars of the local economy.

Where to Stay

Where to Stay in Shamrock

Accommodation in Shamrock: There are plenty of hotels in the town.

Motels and Hotels in Shamrock:

>> Book your Hotel in Shamrock

Lodging Near Shamrock along Route 66

Heading West.... into Texas

Heading East.... into Oklahoma

Book your Route 66 hotel now
Book your Hotel along Route 66

Shamrock Texas: Weather

This is a relatively dry region with a yearly rainfall that reaches 24 in (618 mm). Summers are hot but with lower temperature during the night. The average highs during summer are over 90°F (30°C) and the average lows are around 65°F (19°C). During the winter the average temperature ranges between 50°F (10°C) and 25°F (-4°C).

Snow: Snow falls in the Panhandle region at any time between September and May (with the average first snowfall date on the first week of December). Its altitude causes greater snowfall than locations further east: averaging 17” per year (with maximum values of about 40”) - 43 to 102 cm.

Tornadoes can stike Shamrock, as it is located in the Tornado Alley. Read more: Tornadoes on Route 66.

Route 66 and Shamrock Texas
Location of Shamrock TX on Route 66

Getting To Shamrock

Shamrock is the first town along I-40 and U.S. Route 66 after entering Texas from Oklahoma.

Shamrock is 15 miles (24 km) west of the Oklahoma - Texas state line.

Heading west from Shamrock, it is 93 miles (150 km) to Amarillo and 171 miles (275 km) to the New Mexico state line. It is 291 miles (468 km) to the northwest of Dallas.

Map of Shamrock and Route 66

between Texola, Oklahoma and Glenrio, Texas.

Pale Blue: Historic Route 66 alignment; Red line: I-40 where it overlaps the old alignment.

Black: Jericho Gap section of US highway 66. Blue: Original alignment of US 66 between Amarillo and Conway.

Google Maps. Terms. Icons.

Route 66 itinerary: how to reach Shamrock

Route 66 logo

See previous sections of US Route 66:

  • Sayre to Texola, Oklahoma

See next section of US Route 66:

From: Texola, OK to Shamrock, TX

From Texola, Oklahoma (mile zero), take the main road westwards. At the Texas state line (0.6 mi.) it becomes Spur TX 30 which becomes the south service road of Interstate 40, and is the Historic Route 66 alignment. It crosses the Route 66 Bridge over the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railroad (6.6 mi.).

It becomes Business Loop I-40 at the interchange with I-40 (13.6 mi.) and enters Shamrock as East 12th St.

At the northeastern corner of Main (U.S. Hwy 83) and E. 12th St. is the Conoco Tower Station (15 mi.).

See next leg Lela to Mc Lean, TX.

Road Safety

Check the Road Information online: TxDOT Highway Conditions

Be aware that the exit and entry ramps of I-40 do not intersect its service roads; they merge with them. Those driving along the frontage roads must yield to the vehicles driving along the exit ramps of I-40, who have the right of way.

Shamrock: Attractions & Sights

Things to Do and See

Shamrock is renowned for its historic Art Deco style CONOCO Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Café, listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Shamrock: City Attractions

The CONOCO Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Café

On the corner of 101 East 12th St. (intersection of US Highway 84 and Historic Route 66). (Shamrock TX)

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

The "Conoco Tower Station" is an iconic and unique Art Deco landmark crowned by a 100 foot tower located six blocks from Shamrock's commercial center.

Historic CONOCO Tower Station, Shamrock Texas

Route 66 Conoco service station at Shamrock
Historic Place: Art-Deco Conoco service station and diner, Shamrock, Texas
by

John Nunn owned the lot on the corner of the crossroads of U.S. Route 66 and Highway 83 and it was a prime location: Developers built it for him in exchange for the land.

James Tindall and R. C. Lewis built it in 1936 (it cost $23,000 of those days), based on an outline of the design of the building traced by Nunn with a nail in the sandy ground of a neighboring plot. It was the first commercial business located on U.S. Highway 66 in Shamrock and was quickly nicknamed the «Tower Station».

It comprised a Conoco gas station, a diner named "U-Drop Inn" (the name was the winning entry in a naming contest, and was the suggestion of a local 8 year-old). The third building was a retail store, but became an extra area for the café, and provided extra seating space and also served as a ballroom.

Conoco Inc. was an American oil company founded in 1875 as the Continental Oil and Transportation Company. It evolved into a gasoline brand and its service stations now belong to Phillips 66 Company.

The property is a sturdy one-story concrete and brick building with a flat roof. But its Art-Deco embellishments make it stand out: the gas station has two canopies, each facing a different highway, and two obelisks top the building. The tallest, over the service station, is a tower that extends almost 100 feet into the air (30 m). It is emblazoned with the letters that spell "CONOCO" and topped with a metal "tulip".

It is one of the tallest structures in the center of Shamrock and the neon-lighted tower lured in the customers. The building's facade is decorated with green and gold terracotta tiles and a distinctively Art Deco relief motif on canopies and tower bases.

As it was built during the Great Depression its extravagance may seem out of place, being located in a small and remote town, but at that time, Shamrock was doing fine, oil was a good source of revenue for the region and business was thriving.

Art Deco

This style flourished between both World Wars (1914 to 1940). It adopted symmetry, rich colors and bold rectilinear geometric shapes to exalt technological progress. It was a symbol of elegance, luxury and wealth based on the mechanized technological world of the early twentieth century.

John Nunn passed away in 1957 and the building changed hands over the following decade. In the 1970's it became a Fina gas station and its color theme switched to red-white and blue. The builder's son, James Tindall Jr. bought it in the early 1980s, but closed the business in 1997. That same year it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

It was purchased by the First National Bank of Shamrock in 1999 and donated to the town of Shamrock. A careful restoration was completed in 2003 recovering its 1940s charm.

Disney - Pixar spotted the building and included it in their 2006 movie, Cars, styling the "House of Body Art", the business of the character Ramone after the Conoco gas station.

Nowadays it is a museum portraying a 1940s filling station it is also the seat of the Shamrock Economic Development Corporation, operating as a visitor center, chamber of commerce office, and community center.

Magnolia Gas Station

On 204 N Madden Street, Shamrock.

A restored vintage gasoline filling station

The Magnolia Petroleum Company was established in 1911; Standard Oil Co. absorbed it in 1925 and by 1959 it was part of their Mobil division. Mobil had already adopted the Pegasus logo in the 1930s.

Route 66 Magnolia service station at Shamrock
Restored Magnolia gasoline station. Route 66, Shamrock TX. By Billy Hathorn

The Blarney Stone

Elmore Park, on the corner of S. Texas St. and E 1st St. Go south down U.S. Highway 83 (Main St.) for 11 blocks and turn left on East 1st. St., after 3 blocks you will reach the Park.

A fragment of the original Blarney stone is mounted on a cylindrical concrete pillar at Shamrock's Elmore Park. The monument is painted Irish green and a brass plaque states that it was placed there on March 17, 1959 by Texas Secretary of State, Zollie Stearley.

The Blarney Stone
The walls of Blarney Castle, Cork, Island hold a block of limestone that was set into the battlements in 1446. Local lore has it that those who kiss the stone will be endowed with the gift of «clever, flattering or coaxing talk», that is, witty eloquence.

There is another monument closer to downtown Shamrock (on Main St. between E 3rd and 4th Streets), it is cuter than the original Blarney stone: an upright stone plaque with a painting of a leprechaun and a clover. It wishes visitors "Top O' the Mornin' to Ya" (Irish for Good Morning) and invites them to kiss the stone for "Everlasting Good Luck", a horse shoe is embedded in the concrete base for additional positive vibes.

The Pioneer West Museum

204 North Madden St., Shamrock TX. Open: weekdays 10 am - noon and 1 - 3 pm.

The museum is located in the former Reynolds Hotel, finished in 1928 belonging to Marion Reynolds. It served travelers and traveling salespeople during 50 years. The exhibits focus on the Great Plains Indians, Apollo XII Moon mission (astronaut Alan Bean was born in Wheeler county) and cowboy and western frontier artifacts.

Saint Patrick's Day

Since 1938, Shamrock celebrates St. Patrick's day on the weekend that is closest to March 17.

The celebration includes a parade, banquet and Irish food and festivities. A Miss Irish Rose is crowned too!

Tours & Itineraries

Historic Route 66 in Shamrock

Above we describe the historic Route 66 alignment from Texola, OK to Shamrock, TX.

Route 66 Bridge over the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railroad

Interstate 40 Service Road. Shamrock, TX. USAGPS: 35.226474, -100.105552

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Located on the Interstate 40 Service Road, about 30 feet (10 m) to the south of I-40, 8.5 mi (13.7 km) east of Shamrock. Head east from Shamrock and 1.4 miles after the Farm to Market 1802 crossing you will reach the bridge. It is 5.5 mi west of the Texas - Oklahoma state line.

Although the area is flat and dry, the five-span steel bridge was built to allow the old Route 66 to span the former CRI&G Railroad (Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railroad). The railway bed ran 25 feet (7.6 m) below the bridge's deck.

US 66 Bridge, Shamrock
Historic Place: Route 66 bridge, Shamrock TX. Static Image by Google Street View
Click on image for Interactive Google Street View

The steel and concrete bridge was designed by M. L. Grady built by E. T. Prater in 1932 at a total cost of $28,568.74. It is 125 feet (38 m) long and has a 24 foot wide roadway (7.3 m).

Its main span has steel-I-beams encased in concrete, which was quite unique: it lightened the structure and reduced its cost. The other spans were built with reinforced concrete as were the retaining walls slabs.

The concrete casing protected the steel (and those driving across the bridge) from being blasted by the steam engines running under the bridge.

Route 66 traffic crossed this bridge until 1960 when Interstate 40 was completed. Nowadays, the historic U.S. 66 roadbed is part of the I-40 frontage road system.

CRI&G began operating as a chartered company back in 1847. It was the first railroad to bridge the Mississippi and its demise in 1980 was the longest one in the history of U.S. railways. The tracks (rails and ties) that ran below the bridge have been removed.

The bridge stands today as it did back in 1932, it has not been altered since it was built. In 2007 it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

McLean Commercial Historic District

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

In the neighboring town of McLean, 19 miles (31 km) west of Shamrock. Read more about: McLean's Attractions

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Sources

H. Allen Anderson, "Shamrock, TX," Handbook of Texas Online. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Shamrock City data American Fact Finder, US Census Bureau.

Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary Route 66, National Park Service.

Panhandle snowfall National Weather Service.

Image by Clinton Steeds adapted under its CC BY 2.0 License.

Image by Billy Hathorn adapted under its CC BY 3.0 License.

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.