Ardmore was named after the affluent Philadelphia suburb and historic Pennsylvania Main Line stop Ardmore, Pennsylvania, which was named after Ardmore, Ireland by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1873. The name Ardmore is Gaelic signifying high grounds or hills.
Ardmore, Indian Territory began with a plowed ditch for a Main Street in the summer of 1887 in Pickens County, Chickasaw Nation. It owes much of its existence to the construction of the Santa Fe railroad through the area during that time. It grew, as most frontier towns grew, over the years into a trading outpost for the region. A large fire in 1895 destroyed much of the fledgling town, which forced residents to rebuild nearly the entire town. In the early 1900s, Ardmore became well known for its abundance of cotton-growing fields and eventually became known as the world's largest inland cotton port.
After the fields were stripped of their fertility, however, the city fortunately found itself positioned next to one of the largest oil fields ever produced in Oklahoma, the Healdton Oil Field. After its discovery in 1913, entrepreneurs and wildcatters flooded the area, and Carter County quickly became the largest oil-producing county in Oklahoma, and has remained so ever since. Ardmore has remained an energy center for the region ever since, with the region's natural wealth giving birth to such energy giants as Halliburton and the Noble Energy companies, among others. Ardmore also learned the perils of being energy-rich with yet another disaster in 1915, when a railroad car containing casing gas exploded, killing 45 people and destroying much of downtown, including areas rebuilt after the 1895 fire. The disaster, which made national news at the time, gave residents the resolve to establish the city's first fire department to ensure that such events would not compound themselves in the future. The city has not experienced any major setbacks since the 1915 fire, save for a 1995 tornado that nearly destroyed the Uniroyal Goodrich (now Michelin) Tire Plant in west Ardmore. Despite a shift at the plant working at the time, miraculously no one was killed as the tornado ripped through the area, thanks to the public being alerted by area news and tornado sirens.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 50.0 square miles (129.5 km²), of which, 49.1 square miles (127.2 km²) of it is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km²) of it (1.74%) is water.
Ardmore is located about 10 miles (16 km) south of the Arbuckle Mountains, an ancient, eroded range spanning some 100 km across southern Oklahoma. The geology is highly variegated within the area, with uplifted and folded ridges visible within the shoreline of some of the lakes surrounding Ardmore. The city of Ardmore has no intracity streams or rivers, but is part of the Washita and Red River watersheds, with two tributaries, Caddo and Hickory creeks, flanking the broad, low valley in which Ardmore is situated. Ardmore is also 5 km north of Lake Murray, an impoundment of the two arms of Anadarche Creek, which eventually flows into the western reaches of Lake Texoma.
There were 9,646 households out of which 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.4% were married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.6% were non-families. 31.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.1% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 18.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 88.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $28,046, and the median income for a family was $37,758. Males had a median income of $28,685 versus $23,070 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,502. About 13.6% of families and 18.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.9% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over.
Being home to many pioneers in the dawn of the American oil industry, Ardmore has been blessed with riches far beyond most cities of its size, as well as the colorful past that often accompanies such 'instant' wealth. Such wealth has been channeled into many philanthropical endeavors, as well as reinvested into the area in various art and infrastructure endowments.
Such amenities include:
Ardmore has many civic organizations committed to its betterment. The Ardmore Masonic Lodge is one of the oldest civic organization in Ardmore.
Ardmore-Plainview Public Schools operates public schools in Ardmore.
Dickson Public Schools is within proximity, however, part of the incorporated town limits of Dickson, which operates this public school district adjacent to the city limits of Ardmore.
Ardmore-Oak Hall Episcopal School one of only three Episcopal diocesan schools in the state of Oklahoma.
Ardmore has four exits off I-35:
Ardmore also has a scheduled stop on the Greyhound/Jefferson Bus Lines system.
Southern Oklahoma Rural Transit System (SORTS) provides transit services for the public in Ardmore and the surrounding areas.
Historically speaking, Ardmore had a fairly extensive traction (streetcar/interurban) railway system, franchised in February 1905, that linked outlying areas, such as the Dornick Hills Country Club, to the central business district. The main part of the streetcar line originally ran down the center lane of Main Street. Service ended in 1922.