"My Hometown:" Ardmore

By: Alex Belser Email
By: Alex Belser Email

ARDMORE, OK - It has been 125 years since this southern Oklahoma city was founded.

Many of the 24,000 residents here enjoy living in a town where they know many people.

"I feel like it's home and everybody's family," resident Laura Russell said.

"It's just a little small nice town where everybody gets along with each other," resident Eldon Carr said.

City commissioner Martin Dyer has watched half the town's history unfold from the same window in his law office.

Back in 1908, Dyer's grandfather was herding sheep in Wyoming and decided to move.

"One thing they wanted to do was get into a town," Dyer said. "They were on a ranch 50 miles from town and wanted to get the kids an education. They say that grandmother had an ear infection and needed to get to a warmer climate."

An oil boom grew the town, and in 1915 a rail car explosion leveled it, killing 45 people. Dyer's grandfather became mayor.

"When I was growing up, we had six downtown drug stores, of course now they've all moved out out to the malls," Dyer said. "It's like any other downtown, it's been hurting over the years as the town has migrated toward the interstate. When I grew up, you came through the middle of town on Highway 77."

The town's name comes from the Philadelphia suburb of Ardmore, Penn., which was named after an Irish town pronounced "Ardmoor."

"I remember the summer the cotton warehouse burned down here, that was a pretty big fire," Dyer said. "I looked out my office window and saw the old wooden viaduct burn and that created a lot of smoke because it was asphalt-treated lumber."

Oil and ranching remain important, but the top single employers are now the Michelin tire plant and Mercy Hospital. There are also warehouses for dollar stores and retailer Best Buy.

"Ardmore has also been able to weather things. It came through the depression pretty well and hung on during the recent downturn in the economy," Dyer said.

The Carter County jobless rate is now under 5 percent.

"Ardmore never fell that far we had a fairly sound economy and still had good job growth," Chamber of Commerce president Wes Stucky said.

Leaders are now working to bring in more companies like Lone Grove-based Amethyst, which is making technology used in night vision goggles.

"In about 90 days, we'll start construction on a business incubator that can house these emerging technology companies," Stucky said of a new building and industrial park on Highway 70.

While more changes lie ahead, Dyer says some things remain constant over the years.

"I think the people have stayed the same," Dyer said. "I like the people of Ardmore, they're generous and friendly."

"A lot of schools in bigger cities where I've been, they never had a one-on-one teacher-parent communication," resident Brittany Parker said. "Here, they're quick to call and tell you about your child so they won't get left behind."

Michael Diggs moved here from Texas in search of a small town. "My wife got on the internet and found Ardmore and said this is a nice little town," Diggs said.

"It's not too big and not too small, it's just a nice place to live," resident Diane Barrett said.

"I get to fish. I have Lake Murray, Lake Texoma, Lake of the Arbuckles, they're all close," resident Gary Warner said.

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