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Sayre, Oklahoma
—  City  —
Location of Sayre, Oklahoma
Coordinates: 35°17′56″N 99°38′12″W / 35.29889°N 99.63667°W / 35.29889; -99.63667Coordinates: 35°17′56″N 99°38′12″W / 35.29889°N 99.63667°W / 35.29889; -99.63667
Country United States
State Oklahoma
County Beckham
 - Total 3.4 sq mi (8.8 km2)
 - Land 3.4 sq mi (8.8 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 1,808 ft (551 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 4,114
 Density 1,215.9/sq mi (469.4/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 73662
Area code(s) 580
FIPS code 40-65700[1]
GNIS feature ID 1097858[2]

Sayre is a city in and the county seat of Beckham County, in Western Oklahoma, the United States.[3] It is half-way between Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Amarillo, Texas on Interstate 40 and the former U.S. Route 66. The population was 4,114 at the 2000 census.



After the Civil War in the United States, Congress wanted to stimulate the economy and aid the growth of the nation. The biggest way that they achieved this was to promote the building of the western railroads. Upon completion of the Union Pacific-Central Pacific joining together in 1869 with the Golden Spike, other railroads trying to capitalize on commerce and trade also began crossing the western country. This included the Great Northern and Burlington in the far north, the Southern Pacific on the extreme southern border.

Eventually this would lead to rails crossing Indian Territory, present day Oklahoma, around the turn of the millennium from the 1800’s to the 1900’s. A new rail line was extended from Weatherford, Oklahoma, to Texola, Oklahoma, by McCabe & Steen Contractors, in July 1901. Entrepreneurs would buy land near were the new tracks where being laid, and also near a source of water. The Choctaw Town site and Improvement Company did this, and when the railroad crossed the North Fork of the Red River in Western Indian Territory an instant town sprang up, on 14 September 1901.

The Choctaw Townsite & Improvement Company began selling lots to new Sooners arriving to start a new life. The seeds of new town were on, businessmen came to sell their wares to the new town folk, and within one year the town’s population was up to around 1,000. The chief engineer, and a stockholder, for the railroad gave his name to the newly formed town, Robert Heysham Sayre, of Pennsylvania.

The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway Company (called CRI&P), later just the “Rock Island” or Rock Island Line, leased the new line. The Rock Island would complete their march to the Pacific by filling in the line to Tucumcari, New Mexico.

In the 1930’s U.S. Route 66, a dream forwarded by fellow Oklahoman Cyrus Avery, would come to Sayre, cementing the town’s fate to fuel the cars and feed the people exploring the country.

In 1940 film director John Ford would use Sayre’s Beckham County Courthouse in the film The Grapes of Wrath, based on the famous book by writer John Steinbeck.

During the 1970s Sayre and the surrounding area would benefit from the natural gas and oil development in the Panhandle-Hugoton field, the largest-volume gas field in the United States, and the world’s largest known source of helium. Between 1973 and 1993 the field produced over 8-trillion cubic feet (230,000,000 m³) of gas.

One famous son of Sayre is balloonist Maxie Anderson. Born in Sayre, during the height of the Great Depression, 10 September 1934, Anderson along with Ben Abruzzo and Larry Newman were the first people to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a balloon, the Double Eagle II, in 1978.


Sayre is located at 35°17′56″N 99°38′12″W / 35.29889°N 99.63667°W / 35.29889; -99.63667 (35.298940, -99.636556)[4]. It is located on the North Fork of the Red River, at an elevation of 1,800 feet (549 m). The area is dominated by low-rolling red clay hills.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.4 square miles (8.8 km²), of which, 3.4 square miles (8.8 km²) of it is land and 0.29% is water.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 4,114 people, 1,132 households, and 678 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,215.9 people per square mile (469.9/km²). There were 1,399 housing units at an average density of 413.5/sq mi (159.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 74.99% White, 18.25% African American, 2.53% Native American, 0.41% Asian, 1.92% from other races, and 1.90% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.35% of the population.

There were 1,132 households out of which 26.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.8% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.1% were non-families. 36.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the city the population was spread out with 14.6% under the age of 18, 14.0% from 18 to 24, 40.9% from 25 to 44, 16.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 197.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 216.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $21,713, and the median income for a family was $30,000. Males had a median income of $22,167 versus $18,147 for females. The per capita income for the city was $10,378. About 15.9% of families and 20.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.1% of those under age 18 and 14.0% of those age 65 or over.

National Register of Historic Places

  • Beckham County Courthouse
  • Sayre Champlin Service Station
  • Sayre City Park
  • J. S. Danner House
  • Sayre Downtown Historic District
  • Sayre Rock Island Depot


External links



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