|History in a Pecan
Railroad superintendent Nick O'Brien became the town's namesake
when the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway arrived in 1906 even though there
had been a nearby community named Carney. O'Brien had a population of 350
in 1915 and by 1940 it was at its peak of 800. The town had the misfortune of
being in the path of a tornado in 1953 which destroyed a good part of the town.
Although the town rebuilt (and finally incorporated in 1958), it never fully recovered.
Improvements included a new fire station, sewer, and city hall, but the population
never exceeded the 287 people reported for the 1960 census. O'Brien was just too
near Rochester and Knox
City. The population was 258 in 1970, 212 in 1980, 152 in 1990 and the present
estimate is 132.