Abandoned cafe in Shamrock, Okla.

rememberthrough / Flickr

A Tiny Oklahoma Town ‘Dissolves’ in Its Own Debt

  • Joe Wertz

rememberthrough / Flickr

Abandoned cafe in Shamrock, Okla.

Shamrock was founded on the fortunes of Oklahoma’s first oil boom.

When the oil dried up, the town’s luck followed.

A population that “fluctuated” between 10,000 and 15,000 had dwindled to 1,400 by 1920, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society. About 100 people lived in Shamrock in 2010, Census data show. That summer, the board of trustees voted to dissolve the town, which was drowning in debt.

The town’s turning point came in 2005, the Tulsa World‘s Chase Cook reports:

… the town trustees voted to take out a $20,050 loan using the $20,000 cemetery fund as collateral … Records show that Shamrock had $1,492.09 in its general fund when it took out the loan.

Much of the town is abandoned, the paper reports. The volunteer fire department and local cemetery have been privatized and the town hall has been rented to an Internet service company.

In all, the town is more than $60,000 in debt, which includes more than $40,000 in taxes and past-due bills, the World reports.

Compare that to the $15,000 the town currently has in its general fund.

“I don’t know if we will be able to pay off all that debt,” Shamrock’s receiver, Sapulpa attorney Bill Sellers tells the World. “It’s a dying town, unfortunately.”