An Irish touch on Route 66
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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, adjacent to the state of Oklahoma.
The Texas Panhandle
The "panhandle" is the northernmost region of the state of Texas and 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.
Paleo-Indians dwelled here over 10,000 years ago and their stone tools have been found at the nearby site in Clovis New Mexico. 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.
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, the name
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.
The closing scenes of the film «Cast Away» (2000), show the character Chuck Nolan (played by Tom Hanks) at a crossroads very close to Shamrock (see map with directions).
Getting To Shamrock
Shamrock is the first town along I-40 and U.S. Route 66 after entering Texas from Oklahoma. It 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.
Where to Stay in Shamrock
Hotels and Motels
Find your accommodation in Shamrock; there are plenty of hotels in the town.
>> Book your Hotels in Shamrock
Lodging Near Shamrock along Route 66
Heading East, Route 66 accomodation in Oklahoma
>> See the RV campground in neighboring Amarillo
Shamrock Texas: Weather
Location of Shamrock TX on Route 66
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.
Wheeler County gets hit by about 10 tornados each year. Tornado Risk: learn more about Tornado Risk on US 66.
Map of Shamrock on Route 66 Texas
See this map with US 66 alignment in Shamrock.
You can also check out our Route 66 Map in Texas, with the complete description of its different alignments and all the towns along them.
Shamrock: Attractions & Sights
Things to Do and See in town
- Sights in the town of Shamrock (below)
- Tours & Itineraries
Shamrock: City Attractions
We will tour town from east to west along Old Route 66, starting at I-40s Exit 164 and heading west along East 12th Street (former US Hwy. 66).
1101 E 12th St. To your right (street view), the empty rusting steel signpost is all that remains of the 1930 RV campground, Lewis Curios and Filling Station.
Johnie Wilson Filling Station
Next to it, also to your right (street view) is a rustic wooden building (1115 E 12 Street) that dates back to 1935 and was Johhne Wilson's filling station and Robbie R's Quality Used Cars as you can see, behind it is a large field with many vintage 1950 cars, a graveyard of ancient autos.
Head west for three blocks and on your left (south side of Route 66) is a 1950s Motel that is still open.
Sun ’n Sand Motel
800 E 12 Street, Shamrock
The Sun ’n Sand Motel promoted itself as "A Motel of Distinction" when it opened its 28 units in 1953. It hada "Maverick Restaurant", and they stated that "We have everything for you". This classic motel still open and lodging guests as the Route 66 Inn.
> > You can Book a Room in the Route 66 Inn
It still has the same "U-shaped" layout around a central court with gabled roofs over its units and a "Sun" logo painted on its walls.
Mobil gas station
801 E 12th St.
Now a cleaners shop (Cut and Clean), it was a Mobil gas station from 1950 and repair shop as you can see in the following "then and now" sequence. The station had a garage to the east, still standing.
The Mobile station in 1962
Ed Ruscha Click image to enlarge
Just ahead also to your right is the former Shamrock Ranger Motel from the 1950s:
Shamrock Ranger Motel
711 E 12th Street, Shamrock
The Shamrock Ranger Motel promoted itself in its postcards as: "Shamrock's Newest Motel 31 Ultra Modern Units Room Phones, Free TV, Refrigerated Air Conditioning, Hot Water Heat, Wall to Wall Carpeting, Tub and Shower Combination, Swimming for our Guests and lots of Hospitality". Now it is the Shamrock Country Inn, and although it has lost its classic neon sign and the swimming pool that it had in the courtyard is now gone, it retains its "U-shaped" layout and general appearance.
Facing it, to your left, is a former Art Decó" style gas station.
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.
Art Deco buildings had linear, rectangular, triangular or trapezoidal shapes, zigzags, sleek and streamlined forms and smooth materials that blended concrete, marble, stucco and also steel, and aluminum.
It fell out of favor during WWII, when it was seen as decadent and it was replaced by more functional and unadorned styles.
The first two Whiting Bros. in Shamrock
Whiting Bros. Gas Station #1
720 E 12th Street, Shamrock
This building with Art Deco decorations on the upper part of its parapets and walls was a Whiting Brothers gas station dating back to 1938. Whiting Brothers had over 100 service stations in the South West and all but one have closed.
There were three Whiting Bros. stations in Shamrock.
See this photo from 2011 when it still sported the WB sign over the pump islands which was supported by the steel column that can be seen next to the curb.
Former Hillcrest Motel site
Next to it is the site of the Hillcrest motel, demolished in 1985, street view. Notice the mural along the retaining wall by the highway.
Whiting Bros. Gas Station #2
600 E 12th Street, Shamrock
This one is known by the Texas Historic Resources Survey Inventory (THRSI) as the "P. B. Wooldridge #2 gas station". It was a Whiting Brothers station, also from 1938. Its Art Deco design is very similar to the first one.
Whiting Bros. Service Stations and Motels on Route 66
Visit our Whiting Brothers motels & gas stations on Route 66 web page to learn all about the remaining gas stations of this company along US66.
Ahead, but now to your left is yet another Vintage Filling Station.
Vintage Gas Station
522 E 12 Street, Shamrock
Pictured above, this used to be the Shamrock Gas Station and Garage and was built in 1954 (according to the THRSI) is a red-brick building that has a single bay and a flat roof canopy covering a single gas pump island.
The following block (to your left) has a 1950s motel.
402 E 12 Street, Shamrock
The Rambler Motel from the 1950s, when it was ran by Landes and Sally Horton is still operating. Now it is the Blarney Inn and its layout remains unchanged. It has updated its gabled roofs and replaced the old neon sign. It's name is a reference to Shamrock's Blarney Stone.
You can Book a Room in the Blarney Inn
Old Gas Station
403 E 12th St.
Across the street from the old Rambler motel is a 1950s gas station listed by the Texas Historic Resources Survey Inventory (THRSI). As you can see in its street view, there are two concrete islands, that can each hold two pumps, with the original service light poles on each island.
Clay Motor Company
On the next block, to your left, on the SE corner of Route 66 and N. Houston St. is the former Clay Motor Co. dealership of Ford's Edsel brand. In the 1940s it was J. C. Daniels Mercury Dealership, which operated here between 1947 and 2014. See its street view.
Just west of it, also to your left is a former Motel.
288 E 12th Street, Shamrock
It opened back in 1935 as the Sunset Cottage Camp, and later became the "Village Motel". It is no longer a motel, but private property, this complex had lovely rock facing on its cabins, each with its garage, all of them were separate units.
The cabins on the front of the western part have gone, but the rest of the complex is intact.
207 E 12th St.
This building pictured below, with a native Pueblo-Santa Fe style, formerly a realtor office an nowadays Rusty's on 66 pizza & burger restaurant, has a niece mural painted on its walls. It used to be Lucy's Café a filling station from 1940 (according to the THRSI). It's shape is reminiscent of an ice box station of that era.
Old Texaco Gas Station
215 E 12 Street, Shamrock
Next to to Lucy's is another building that at one time was a Texaco gas station. Now it is "Spinning Jenny's House of Music", and has been reformed.
Formerly it was Jimmy's Service Station from 1950. The images below show it in 2011 and nowadays. As you can see it had two garage bays with the typical Texaco windows in them.
Facing both stations, to your left, on the south side of the road a great example of Route 66 Kitsch:
Big Vern’s Steakhouse
200 E. 12 Street, Shamrock
This steak house is notable for its gigantic red colored cowboy Texan boot and all. (Try its signature beer bread). There was a CITGO station here.
On the next block is Shamrock's best known attraction.
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 on Route 66 six blocks from Shamrock's commercial center.
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, equivalent to $435,000 nowadays), 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 part of the café, and provided extra seating space. It 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.
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.
104 E 12 Street, Shamrock
Across the street from the Tower Station, on the SE corner of Route 66 and Main once stood a Texaco gas station. In the 1960s it was replaced by the Western Motel; it is still open and lodging guests. The "Then and Now" sequence below shows us that not too much has changed, a new entrance portico was added to the western facade.
You can Book a Room in the Western Motel
Head west out of town along W 12th Street (US 66) for more sights. One block west of the Conoco Tower station to your left is NAPA Auto Parts, formerly "Riverland Auto Parts", built in 1955 (Street View).
Mobil & Gulf gas station sites
Across N. Wall St. on its NW corner, was a Mobil gas station, and facing it, across Route 66 on the southwestern corner was a Gulf gas station. You can see both of them in the following image from the 1950s, it is part of a postcard, that photographed US 66 two blocks further west, looking back east down Route 66:
The red arrow mark both gas stations, the black one marks the "tower" of the Conoco station, and the blue arrow marks the cantilever awning of Napa Auto Parts.
Same View Today.
Kyle- Deckle Dealership
211 W 12th St.
On the next corner, to your right is the old garage from a 1946 dealership. It was Jack Deckle Dodge, Plymouth Chrysler ⁄ Kyle Motor Co.
We uploaded a postcard where you can see Kyle in the 1950s (to the left), with its amazing blue neon sign.
Across the street, facing it was Jacobs Trading Post.
Jacobs Trading Post
214 W 12th St.
The building is still standing though it is no longer the "Jacob's Trading Post, Standard Oil, Curio Shop and RV Park" that opened in 1954 and was owned by Mr. and Mrs. W. L. Jacobs. You can see it in the postcard link above, on the right side. Below is a "Then and Now" set of Jacobs' store and gas station.
Jacobs Trading Post in the 1960s postcard
Gulf Gas Station
300 W 12th St.
This is an ice box or Moderne style Gulf service station that was built in 1945. Its design is the opposite of the lavish Art Deco Conoco station. Here the lines are austere, purposeful, without ornament, with trims that emphasize the horizontal design. It is pictured below.
310 W 12th St.
Another ice box with Moderne style. Catering to eastbound traffic. It has a two bay garage and three green lines marking the upper side of its facade. Click images below for their street views.
Burcham Shell Station
301 W 12th St.
Shell gas station facing the Gulg station was owned by Cleland Burcham and also had a Curios shop. It was built around 1950, and had a box shaped canopy over a single pump island, store and a two-bay garage, Street View.
Oscar's Mobil and Café
401 W 12th St.
On the next block, NW corner. It opened in 1940, and was a Mobil gas station, Café, and restaurant known as Oscar's Filling Station & Sporting Goods. Now it is a car wash and this is its 1940 no style street view.
The third Whiting Bros. in Shamrock
P.B. Wooldridge Gas Station
406 W 12th St.
It is facing Oscar's, on the SW corner of Arkansas St. and Route 66. This Art Deco building dates back to 1938 (all three Whiting Bros. stations in Shamrock were built that year). It was owned by P.B. Wooldridge, and was also the local Greyhound Bus Station. Later it became AA Towing. The station lacks a canopy and garage but has a protruding cornice above large windows, and a geometric parapet.
411 W 12th St.
Adjacent to the gas station is this motel. It was owned by Mr. and Mrs. H.G. Tucker, it had "Tastefully furnished motel rooms" it was built in ranch-style in 1958 and had a U-shaped layout. Below is a 1960s view of it. You can check this 1950s postcard for another view.
In the 1960s, the Texaco station is on the far left behind the sign.
The hotel's western rooms are partly there, and it has linked up with its neighboring hotel. Now it is the Texan Hotel
Sun Tan Motel
412 W 12 Street, Shamrock
Built in 1958, this motel was very avant-garde in its days, with a modern entrance canopy and a glassed office. Its neon sign was great. The canopy and glassed office have been taken down, but the two floor building is clearly the same one. It later merged with the adjacent Kelly becoming the Texan Motel.
Garage from 1940
15851 W Route 66, Shamrock
The site has several buildings which in 1940 were Chapman & Sons., a garage on Route 66. Now there are many old abandoned cars lying around the overgrown plot of land.
This is the last stop on your "City Tour" in Western Shamrock, turn back and return to Main street to visit the other attractions in town.
Take a right from US66 and go south for 8 blocks, on the 300 block visit a lucky stone.
At 308 N Main St., to your left (street view), is this cute 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.
Drive on until reaching E 2nd St. take a left along it and park.
The Blarney Stone Plaza
NE corner of E 2nd St. and Main.
A fragment of the original Blarney Stone is mounted on a cylindrical concrete pillar at Shamrock's Blarney Stone Plaza. The monument (red arrow in the image) 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 Irish 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.
Drive on, on the next corner, to your left, is the Restored Magnolia Station.
Red Brick Street Paving
Don't miss the red bricks that pave Second Street as you drive towards the old Magnolia Station (blue arrow in image above).
> Read more about Brick paved sections of Route 66.
Magnolia Gas Station
On 204 N Madden Street, Shamrock.
A restored vintage Magnolia 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.
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. Just north of the "Magnolia Gas Station". 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!
There are two vintage gas stations south along North Main St., one facing the Water Tower (don't miss the Welcome to Shamrock Mural next to the tower) on the corner of E 1st St., the other at 116 S Main St., it has great curved glass brick windows. Street View
Tours & Itineraries
Historic Route 66 in Shamrock
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.
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.
Some sponsored content
>> Book your Hotel in Shamrock
Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat
Historic Resources Survey Inventory US 66
H. Allen Anderson, "Shamrock, TX," Handbook of Texas Online. Published by the Texas State Historical Association
Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary Route 66, National Park Service.