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 their march to the Pacific by filling in the line to Tucumcari, New Mexico.
In the 1930s '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.
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.