Waurika is the county seat of Jefferson County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 2,064 at the 2010 census, a 4.36 percent decrease from 2,158 at the 2000 census.
An article from 1985 in The Oklahoman claimed that Waurika promoted itself as "The Parakeet Capital of the World". It gave no explanation for using this slogan. The Waurika Chamber of Commerce website in 2020 echoes that the town was "once a parakeet paradise," but currently seems to be promoting the motto On The Trail, By The Lake, complete with a logo of a cowboy bronc-riding a fish.
The name is the anglicized version of the Comanche compound woarɨhka ("worm eater") from woa ("worm") + tɨhka ("eat") and presumably refers to early European settlers whose plowing humorously resembled digging for worms. Without indicating the source of their opinions, the City of Waurika and the Oklahoma Historical Society say the name means "clear (or pure) water" in some unidentified "American Indian language". (See the etymology of "Idaho" for another example of an inspiring, but fictitious, meaning of Native American origin.)
Waurika was settled after the Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache Reservation was opened to non-Indians on August 6, 1901. The first white settler was James McGraw, who homesteaded on the present town site after moving from Burlington, Iowa. The first sale of town lots was held on June 18, 1902. Nearly three thousand people attended the sale.
Waurika was incorporated in May 1903. On May 8 of that year, C.A. McBrian was sworn in as the town's first mayor. At the time of its founding, Waurika was located in Pickens County, Chickasaw Nation.
The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway came to Waurika on January 1902 after the railroad superintendent "designated the town as a flag station." Waurika was formerly the northern terminus for the Wichita Falls and Southern Railroad, one of the 20th century properties of Frank Kell and Joseph A. Kemp of Wichita Falls, Texas, where the Kell House Museum is located today.
Waurika is located in northwestern Jefferson County at (34.170130, -98.001268). U.S. Route 70 passes through the southern side of the city, leading east to Ardmore and west to Randlett. U.S. Route 81 crosses US 70 in the southeastern corner of Waurika, leading north to Duncan and south to Ringgold. Oklahoma State Highway 5 (Waurika's Main Street) leads northwest to Temple. Waurika is approximately southwest of Oklahoma City.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Waurika has a total area of , of which , or 0.08%, are water. The city center lies on the east side of the valley of Beaver Creek, a south-flowing tributary of the Red River.
Waurika Lake is northwest of the city center.
Waurika's economy has largely been based on cattle raising, agriculture and petroleum production since the founding of the city.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,988 people, 741 households, and 500 families residing in the city. The population density was 168.0 people per square mile (64.9/km). There were 929 housing units at an average density of 78.5 per square mile (30.3/km). The racial makeup of the city was 85.41% White, 1.81% African American, 4.28% Native American, 3.37% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 2.36% from other races, and 2.67% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.00% of the population.
There were 741 households, out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.1% were married couples living together, 9.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.4% were non-families. 30.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.89.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 22.3% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 29.1% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 20.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 107.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 107.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $23,800, and the median income for a family was $31,594. Males had a median income of $24,844 versus $16,286 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,496. About 6.4% of families and 12.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.4% of those under age 18 and 17.4% of those age 65 or over.
Waurika has a home rule charter form of government.
The town's Rock Island Passenger Depot was rehabilitated starting in 1987, and in 2002 was added to the National Register of Historic Places listings in Jefferson County, Oklahoma. Also NHRP-listed are the First Presbyterian Church, the Jefferson County Courthouse, and the State Highway 79 Bridge at the Red River leading to Byers, Texas, which has since been demolished. There was a Chisholm Trail Historical Museum in Waurika, now closed.
Waurika Lake, completed in 1980, is 11 miles long, contains 192,000 acre feet of water at its normal elevation of 951 feet, has a surface area of 10,000 acres, and features 80 miles of shoreline.
The 1996 murder of Heather Rich brought brief notoriety to Waurika. Rich, a 16-year-old sophomore at the local high school, was murdered by two classmates and an acquaintance in a case that attracted national media coverage.
This page uses material from the Wikipedia article Waurika, OK, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 4.0.