|Motto: " Main Street On Historic Route (66) "|
|• 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)|
|• Density||139.7/sq mi (497.2/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|GNIS feature ID||1097858|
Sayre is a city in and the county seat of Beckham County, in Western Oklahoma, the United States. It is half-way between Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Amarillo, Texas on Interstate 40 and the former U.S. Route 66. The population was 4,375 at the 2010 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 century from the 1800s to the 1900s. A new rail line was extended from Weatherford, Oklahoma, to Texola, Oklahoma, by McCabe & Steen Contractors, in July 1901. Entrepreneurs would buy land near where the new tracks were 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 its march to the Pacific by filling in the line to Tucumcari, New Mexico.
At the time Oklahoma became a state, Beckham County was created and Sayre was named as the temporary county seat. An election in 1908 confirmed Sayre as the permanent seat, with voters preferring it to the town of Erick.
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.
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 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 per square mile (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.
Sayre's economy has been based on agriculture and the production of oil and gas. By the 1930s, the town had five oil companies and one gasoline plant in operation. United Carbon Company also built a carbon black plant there. The North Fork Correctional Facility, a privately owned, medium-security prison opened in 1978.
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
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. The gondola from their balloon is displayed by the Smithsonian Museum.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Wilson, Linda D. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. "Sayre." Retrieved October 10, 2011.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Gondola, Double Eagle II. Retrieved October 11, 2013.