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Erick, Oklahoma

Coordinates: 35°12′55″N 99°52′07″W / 35.21528°N 99.86861°W / 35.21528; -99.86861
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Erick, Oklahoma
Corner of Sheb Wooley and Roger Miller streets in Erick
Corner of Sheb Wooley and Roger Miller streets in Erick
Location in Beckham County and the state of Oklahoma
Location in Beckham County and the state of Oklahoma
Coordinates: 35°12′55″N 99°52′07″W / 35.21528°N 99.86861°W / 35.21528; -99.86861[1]
CountryUnited States
 • Total0.94 sq mi (2.45 km2)
 • Land0.94 sq mi (2.45 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Elevation2,064 ft (629 m)
 • Total1,000
 • Density1,059.32/sq mi (408.88/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code580
FIPS code40-24200[3]
GNIS feature ID2410451[1]

Erick (/ˈɪərɪk/ EER-ik) is a city in Beckham County, Oklahoma, United States. It is located 15 miles (24 km) west of Sayre, the county seat, and 6 miles (9.7 km) east of the Oklahoma-Texas border. The population was an even 1,000 at the time of the 2020 census.[4]

A post office, originally named Dennis, was established to serve the local community on November 8, 1900. This community developed along the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad line (later the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway), built in 1902. On November 16, 1901, the name was changed to honor Beeks Erick, the townsite developer and president of the Choctaw Townsite and Improvement Company, and the town incorporated that year.[5]


Erick was established in 1901 as an agricultural community on what would become the edge of the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression of the 1930s.[6] It was located on the National Old Trails Road, one of the predecessors to the 1926 numbered US Highway system. Large segments of that road became part of U.S. Route 66.[7]

At statehood in 1907, the population was reported as 686. In June 1908, Erick competed with Sayre for becoming the county seat, and only lost by a small margin in the election.[8] By 1909, Erick had become a busy community. In that year, it could boast of having 13 general stores, 2 hardware stores, multiple cotton gins and blacksmiths, a livery, a harness shop, a lumber store, five meat markets, several grocery stores, a bakery, and a confectionary, two banks and two weekly newspapers (the Beckham County Democrat and the Erick Altruist. Baptists, Christian, Methodists and Presbyterians had organized churches. By the 1910 U.S. census, population had grown to 915, increasing to 971 in the 1920 census, and reaching a peak population of 2,231 in 1930 due to a brief oil boom. The city economy was bolstered by six cotton gins, a high-density cotton compress, and an ice plant. But in 1940 the census reported 1,591 residents.[5]

The city prospered briefly in the era between WWI and WWII, when natural gas deposits were found in the area.[7] On July 14, 1930, the Frederick (Maryland) Post published, "Reports received here by Sheriff W.K. McLemore, Wheeler County, said negroes were driven out of Erick Oklahoma last night and from Texola, Oklahoma today by a mob seeking reprisal for the death of Mrs. Harry Vaughn, wife of a farmer in a nearby county in Texas, who was beaten to death Friday by a Negro."[9] In a separate incident in 1933, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow (better known as Bonnie and Clyde) kidnapped law enforcement officers from the Wellington, Texas area, drove them to a point near Erick, and left them tied to a tree with barbed wire cut from a fence. The officers freed themselves, but the trail of the criminals had gone cold.[10][11]

Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939, was poorly received locally. According to Erick city clerk Nyla Tennery, "I can remember plainly when the book came out my parents and other people who stayed here were just real upset. That book gave all Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma people a shiftless, bad name, like that was the only kind of people who were here."[12]

U.S. Route 66[edit]

Early motor courts began to appear by 1940, with the DeLuxe Courts being the first local Route 66 lodging to appear in the AAA Directory of Motor Courts and Cottages. While civilian motorcar travel was greatly curtailed due to wartime rationing, by 1946 guidebooks listed the Erick Court and trailer park, the Elms Garage, cafés and filling stations.

Erick prospered in the post-war heyday of Route 66, with various roadside businesses catering to motorists. Guidebooks promoted the tiny city as "the first town you encounter, going west, which has a true 'western' look with its wide, sun-baked streets, frequent horsemen, occasional sidewalk awnings and similar touches."[13]

The four lanes of Route 66 from Sayre, Oklahoma to Erick were the last Oklahoma section of US 66 to be bypassed by I-40, in 1975.[14][15]

Many of the original Route 66 business are now gone or have been converted to other uses.

World War II navy veteran Cal Rogers opened Cal's Country Cooking on US 66 in May 1946, relocating to a new log cabin restaurant on an Interstate 40 exit in October 1979 after the Interstate bypassed traffic away from the old road.[16] The family sold the business and antiques in a 1999 auction; the building is now a steak house.[17]

The West Winds Motel, originally built with individual carport garages and promoted in its heyday with neon signage of bucking broncos, still stands but is no longer open to visitors[6] despite attempts to restore the property.[18]

Efforts to put "Historic Route 66" back onto maps as a tourist attraction date to the late 1980s, with the first Route 66 Association established three years after the last section of original highway (in Williams, Arizona) was bypassed by Interstate highway in 1984. Various local businesses and attractions cater to seasonal tourists attempting to find what remains of the old road.

The former City Meat Market building is now the Sandhills Curiosity Shop, one of the many Route 66 stops on Pixar's research trips for 2006 animated film Cars. Its owners Harley and Annabelle Russell, who bill themselves as the "Mediocre Music Makers", served as model for the country hillbilly accent used by Larry the Cable Guy's character Mater in the film.[19]

The 3000 square foot Roger Miller Museum was a museum opened at the corner of US 66 (Roger Miller Boulevard) and Oklahoma 30 (Sheb Wooley Avenue) in 2004 [20] in a former 1929 café [21] and drugstore building.[22][23] It closed permanently on December 23, 2017. The space is now home to the 100th Meridian Museum.[24]

Country musicians[edit]

Erick was home to two of Country music's more idiosyncratic performers. Sheb Wooley, the actor, songwriter, and singer who recorded the saga of the "one-eyed one-horned flying purple people eater" was born there in 1921. Roger Miller, country superstar and author of "King of the Road," "Dang Me," "You Can't Rollerskate in a Buffalo Herd," and many others, was born in Fort Worth, Texas, but grew up in Erick from the age of three. When asked by an interviewer where Erick was near, Miller wryly replied, "It's close to extinction."[25] Herbert Mayfield, one of the Mayfield Brothers of West Texas, was born in Erick but moved to Dimmitt, Texas, when he was ten years of age.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.0 square mile (2.6 km2), all land.

Erick is located just south of I-40 and is on the historic US Route 66 (which is signed as a business route from Interstate 40). The town is also served by State Highway 30. Erick is the second-closest Oklahoma settlement to the Texas border on US 66 or I-40 (Texola is at the border, seven miles to the west).

It is still a railroad town, being an end point on the route of Farmrail.[26]


Climate data for Erick, Oklahoma
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 50.7
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 22.5
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.5
Source 1: weather.com
Source 2: Weatherbase [27]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[28]

As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 1,023 people, 429 households, and 272 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,040.3 inhabitants per square mile (401.7/km2). There were 556 housing units at an average density of 565.4 units per square mile (218.3 units/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.45% White, 0.10% African American, 0.88% Native American, 0.20% Asian, 2.05% from other races, and 3.32% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.69% of the population.

There were 429 households, out of which 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.3% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.4% were non-families. 34.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 19.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 26.3% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 22.3% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64, and 22.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 83.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $21,346, and the median income for a family was $28,977. Males had a median income of $23,482 versus $16,375 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,855. About 22.5% of families and 25.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 39.4% of those under age 18 and 15.8% of those age 65 or over.


Erick has an aldermanic form of government.[5]

National Register of Historic Places[edit]


  1. ^ a b c U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Erick, Oklahoma
  2. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  4. ^ "Erick (city), Oklahoma". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  5. ^ a b c Wilson, Linda D. "Erick.". The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "West Winds Motel-Route 66: A Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary". US National Park Service. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  7. ^ a b Jim Hinckley (November 11, 2012). The Route 66 Encyclopedia. p. 99. ISBN 9780760340417. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  8. ^ "Sayre, Oklahoma". Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  9. ^ Hinckley, Jim (October 21, 2014). The Illustrated Route 66 Historical Atlas, p.100. ISBN 9780760345436. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  10. ^ The New York Times, June 12, 1933, either page 1 or 4, depending on edition
  11. ^ Great Plains, by Ian Frazier, Penguin Books, 1989, p. 244
  12. ^ Quinta Scott; Susan Croce Kelly (August 1, 1990). Route 66: The Highway and Its People. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 111. ISBN 9780806122915. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  13. ^ Gulliford, Andrew (August 1, 2005). Preserving Western History. p. 315. ISBN 9780826333100. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  14. ^ Jon Sonderman; Jim Ross (December 5, 2011). Route 66 in Oklahoma. p. 8. ISBN 9780738590516. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  15. ^ Russell A. Olsen (September 24, 2008). The Complete Route 66 Lost & Found. p. 67. ISBN 9780760334928. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  16. ^ Marian Clark; Michael Wallis (March 1, 2003). The Route 66 Cookbook: Comfort Food from the Mother Road; 1926-2001. p. 230. ISBN 9781571781284. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  17. ^ "Landmark eatery Cal's goes to auction block". Amarillo Globe-News. July 20, 1999. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  18. ^ Juozapavicius, Justin (May 21, 2007). "Route 66 motels endangered". USA Today. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  19. ^ [1] Archived April 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine [2]
  20. ^ Chet Flippo (June 3, 2004). "Roger Miller Gets a Museum". CMT. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  21. ^ "Western Oklahoma sees increase in tourism". Durant Daily Democrat. Associated Press. July 21, 2003. p. 12. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  22. ^ "National Parks". 2004: 50. Retrieved December 27, 2012. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  23. ^ David Fitzgerald; Jane Jayroe (September 15, 2006). Oklahoma 3. p. 25. ISBN 9781558689855. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  24. ^ Jim Hinckley; Kerrick James (June 6, 2011). Ghost Towns of Route 66. p. 73. ISBN 9780760338438. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  25. ^ "Roger Miller - Memory Book".
  26. ^ "Oklahoma 2018-2020 State Railroad Map" (PDF). Oklahoma Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  27. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Erick, Oklahoma, United States".
  28. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.

External links[edit]