Sayre is a city in and the county seat of Beckham County, in western Oklahoma, United States. It is halfway between Oklahoma City, 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, Congress wanted to stimulate the economy and aid the growth of the nation. One 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, and the Southern Pacific on the extreme southern border.
Eventually this would lead to rails crossing Indian Territory, present-day Oklahoma, around the start of the 20th century. A new rail line was extended from Weatherford to Texola 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 a 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 in 1901.
The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway Company (called CRI&P), later just the "Rock Island", leased the new line. The Rock Island Line 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 benefited 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.