I’m taking part in the A-Z April Blog Challenge.
Join me every day (except Sundays) throughout April for the next letter in the alphabet! Something different on each Letter of the alphabet!
Shamrock, on Interstate Highway 40 (here formerly U.S. Highway 66) in south central Wheeler County, was in the 1980’s the largest town in the county. The name Shamrock was first suggested, for good luck and courage, by Irish immigrant sheep rancher George Nickel, when he applied in 1890 to open a post office at his dugout home six miles north of the present townsite. The name was accepted by federal postal officials, but this post office was never opened, probably because the Nickel home burned that same year.
Another post office was operated nearby for a short while by postmistress Mary R. Jones. Shamrock had its official beginning with the arrival of the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railway in the summer of 1902. In August, town lots were sold at the present townsite, which was then called Wheeler. When Frank Exum, who had recently opened a general store at his dugout-and-frame home, applied for a post office and named it after himself, the Shamrock post office was closed, but the railroad named the stop Shamrock in 1903, and the Shamrock post office reopened. That same year a school opened.
Shamrock was incorporated in 1911 with E. L. Woodley as the first mayor. In 1923 a water main laid from the nearby J. M. Porter ranch eliminated the need to haul water to town in barrels. Later, wells were dug. By 1925 the population had grown to 2,500. Oil was discovered in the area in 1926, and the population had increased to 3,778 by 1930.
Local natural gas wells operated by the Shamrock Gas Company gave the town a sufficient fuel supply, and the Texas Utility Company took over the lighting system. In addition to cottonseed oil mills, industry was provided by a compress, a carbon black plant, and a gasoline extraction plant. Just as the discovery of oil in 1926 had hastened the growth of Shamrock, a decline in the oil industry contributed to a decline in population to 3,123 by 1940; by 1950, however, the population had increased again, to 3,326. The improvement of U.S. Highway 66 made the main avenue of Shamrock boom with garages, filling stations, restaurants, and tourist courts; many of these later closed or moved out to the bypass after Interstate Highway 40 was completed. In the 1980’s Shamrock continued to prosper. At that time it had modern schools, a chemical plant, several oil and gas processing plants, a hospital, and a nursing home. Cattle, agriculture, gas, and petroleum continued to be primary in the economy.
Ever since Glen Truax, the town bandmaster, started the tradition in 1938, Shamrock has had a St. Patrick’s Day celebration on the weekend nearest March 17. This two-day affair features Irish food, fun, and festivities, complete with a parade, a banquet, various other entertainments, and the crowning of Miss Irish Rose.
Shamrock is also the site of the annual Eastern Panhandle Livestock Show. A fragment of the genuine Blarney Stone from Blarney Castle in County Cork, Ireland, is mounted on a pillar in Elmore Park. The Pioneer West Museum, housed in the former Reynolds Hotel, a typical drummer’s hotel of the 1920’s, features exhibits on city and county history.
Interesting Places to Visit in Shamrock
The U-Drop Inn where “delicious food was courteously served” became the standard, and was a welcoming sight to highway travelers and the many buses that pulled in at the diner. This building is located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 83 and Historic Route 66 in Shamrock, Wheeler County, Texas.Locals believe that the Tower Station and U-Drop Inn to be one of the most interesting and eye-catching points of interest along Historic Route 66. It is photographed by interested tourists daily.
Pioneer West Museum focuses on the culture of the Great Plains Indians and even the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Apollo XII Moon mission in which Alan Bean, a native of Wheeler, was an astronaut. There are cowboy exhibits, pioneer weapons, a look at the nearby former United States Army base Fort Elliot as well as farm and ranch artifacts. On display are doctor and dentist offices, a general store, pioneer kitchen, schoolroom, and elegant parlor.
Shamrock Water Tower was recently declared a Texas historical monument. It’s the tallest water tower of it’s type in the state of Texas. According to a representative of Chicago Bridge and Iron Inc., the Shamrock tower remains the tallest tank of its class constructed by their company to date, and estimates the tower’s height at 172-176 feet. After five years of working on this project, two local residents, Mickey and Pam Mitchell, were instrumental in the Shamrock water tower being named as a Texas Recorded Historical Landmark. This is the highest honor given to a structure in the State of Texas. With the help of community volunteers donating time, work skills, supplies and money, Water Tower Plaza was dedicated March 13, 2009, during the 2009 St. Patrick’s Day festivities
Come back and jump in my virtual car and travel to Turkey tomorrow.