Our next destination was Texas Route 66 RV Park in Shamrock, TX, about a 2 hour drive from El Reno, OK. Along the way we passed by miles and miles of cotton fields.
Unless you consider the presence of animals as amenities, besides the long site, this campground doesn’t have much to offer for their $35 daily rate. At the door to the office, we were greeted by chickens, then at the back of the campground, there was a pen where a mule and about five goats reside.
One “amenity” we were surprised to see was a storm shelter near our site! Never seen that before in any campground we have visited.
After settling in, we decided to take a ride into the town of Shamrock to see what the town had to offer along the old Route 66.
Shamrock is a small town, located on the Texas panhandle, where as of 2020, there were only 1910 residents. But it is a town, like so many others, that has survived the development of I-40 which rerouted the traffic away from the small towns located along Route 66. Today the town hosts over 25,000 visitors a year from around the world because it is a “must see” when traveling this part of Route 66!
Fans of country music might recognize another claim to fame for Shamrock – it was the birthplace of Bill Mack, known to his loyal listeners as the “Dean of Country Music Disc Jockeys” and “Radio’s Midnight Cowboy” due to his dual status as a country music DJ and songwriter. Mack died of Covid in 2020.
Our first stop was at the Water Tower. Built by the Chicago Bridge and Iron Company of Chicago at a cost of $6000 in 1915, the steel tower holds 75,000 gallons and stands 172+ feet tall. This tower remains the tallest historic water tower in Texas today and still functions as it overlooks the town.
A fragment of the genuine Blarney Stone from Blarney Castle in County Cork, Ireland, is mounted on a pillar nearby in Elmore Park.
In 1959, to preserve the town’s Irish heritage, a local organization sent away for the stone. Irish resistance to the stone leaving its homeland led to the stone being escorted by guards and an armored truck.
A short distance away, located right at the intersection of Historic Route 66 and US 83, is the U-Drop Inn which was opened in 1936. Representing the art-deco style popular in the 1920s and 1930s, the building was completed in 1936. Local newspapers reported it as “the swankiest of swank eating places” and “the most up-to-date edifice of its kind on the U.S. Highway 66 between Oklahoma City and Amarillo.
“Before making the film, Pixar sent a group of 15 artists with Oklahoma historian Michael Wallis to take photos, talk to people and learn the history of towns along more than 1200 miles of Route 66 through five states….The character “Fillmore” was at one time to be named “Waldmire” after Bob Waldmire, a self proclaimed hipple artist known to Rt 66 fans for his pen-and-ink maps and postcards of the route Ramone’s House of Body Art is based on the U-Drop Inn in Shamrock, Texas. It opened in 1936 as Tower Canaco (from its distinctive Art Deco spire) with the U-Drop Inn Cafe.”
Today the building houses the Shamrock Chamber of Commerce and a tourism office, a small museum and a gift shop. Pretty cool, both on the exterior and interior!
Inside we talked to one of the guides, a woman, probably in her 80’s, named Hazel who told us about some of the history of the building. In addition to all of the 66 memorabilia, there was also a gift shop and the Route 66 Cafe which was decorated for a Halloween Party.
Adding to the charm of the town are the decorated/painted hay bales. So creative and cute!
Speaking of Halloween, there were lots of trick or treaters wandering around. Apparently they were having a Halloween parade because eventually the police had part of the main street blocked off.
What a delightful town! Pictures of the town can be seen here.