Sweetwater, Texas

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Sweetwater, Texas
Municipal building north of the Nolan County Courthouse.
Municipal building north of the Nolan County Courthouse.
"Life Is Sweet In Texas"
Location of Sweetwater
Location of Sweetwater
Nolan County Sweetwater.svg
Coordinates: 32°28′5″N 100°24′26″W / 32.46806°N 100.40722°W / 32.46806; -100.40722Coordinates: 32°28′5″N 100°24′26″W / 32.46806°N 100.40722°W / 32.46806; -100.40722
CountryUnited States
 • TypeCouncil-Manager
 • MayorJim McKenzie
 • City ManagerDavid Adrian Vela
 • Total11.07 sq mi (28.68 km2)
 • Land11.07 sq mi (28.68 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
2,169 ft (661 m)
 • Total10,906
 • Estimate 
 • Density945.37/sq mi (365.01/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code325
FIPS code48-71540[3]
GNIS ID1348139[4]
WebsiteCity website

Sweetwater is a municipality in and the seat of Nolan County, Texas, United States.[5] It is 123 miles southeast of Lubbock and 40 miles west of Abilene, Texas. Its population was 10,906 at the 2010 census.


The town's name "Sweetwater" is the English translation of the Kiowa language word "Mobeetie".[6]

Sweetwater received a U.S. post office in 1879. The Texas and Pacific Railway started service in 1881, with the first train arriving on March 12 of that year, beginning Sweetwater's long history as a railroad town. To encourage the railroads, Sweetwater increased its water supply by building a small town lake called City Lake in 1898 (now called Newman Park), then three larger lakes were constructed thereafter. Construction began on the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway in 1903. By 1912 the Santa Fe Railway was serving Sweetwater via its new Coleman Cutoff[7] and completing a connection with the T&P nearby at "Tecific" junction. Businesses and homes were built along the rail lines. Texas and Pacific Railway passenger service was discontinued in 1969.[8]

Gulf Refinery operated from 1929 to 1954, and at one time the town was a large telegraph center. The International Harvester Company operated a factory on W. Third Street in Sweetwater from 1920 to 1950. Gypsum plants, apparel manufacturers, cement plants, cotton compresses, a cottonseed oil mill, and packing companies were among the nearly 250 businesses operating there from the 1970s. Many still operate today. Sweetwater remains a production hub for such commodities as cotton, oil, and cattle. The population of Sweetwater has remained steady between 11,000 and 13,000 since 1940.[9]

At Sweetwater during World War II, one class of British RAF pilots was trained before the airfield was converted for training American women pilots. The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) were trained under the direction of famed aviator Jacqueline Cochran at Sweetwater's Avenger Field. These WASPs were the first women to fly American military aircraft. The military airstrip was closed at the end of the war.

Pilots flying over Sweetwater can still land at Avenger Field – the Sweetwater Airport (SWW). The National WASP WWII Museum is located at Avenger Field.[10] The WASP women were not recognized for having served in the armed forces until 1977, after U.S. Senator Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona and Colonel Bruce Arnold, late son of General Hap Arnold, gained their official recognition as military veterans. In 1970, the field was developed for Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater.[11]

Sweetwater also has a Pioneer Museum, with display rooms depicting the lives of early settlers. It has extensive photograph files, farm and ranch exhibits, Indian artifacts, and WASP exhibits.[12]

The local newspaper, Sweetwater Reporter, was founded in 1911. The newspaper, first established in 1881, was called the Sweetwater Advance. It was later published as the Nolan County Review, and became the Daily Reporter in 1911.[13] An historic, early 20th-century, stage theater has been renovated and is in full use. The Municipal Auditorium, where Elvis Presley performed twice in 1955, continues to feature live acts. Sweetwater's Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital was founded in 1976.[14]

Sports include access to a large public swimming pool and an 18-hole golf course (opened 1958).[15] Public fishing and recreational facilities are located at Lake Sweetwater.[16]

First Baptist Church had one of the earliest congregations in Sweetwater, and it continues to thrive.[17]

Parts of the south side of Sweetwater were devastated by an estimated EF3 tornado that swept through town early in the morning of April 19, 1986.[18]

Wind turbine near Sweetwater, Texas

Sweetwater is the center of the leading wind power generation region of the Western Hemisphere. It is sometimes called the "Wind Turbine Capital of Texas". The largest wind farm in Texas is Roscoe Wind Farm.[19] In 2009 about 1,330 direct wind-related jobs were created in Nolan County alone, where the industry generated almost $18,000,000 in annual landowner royalties and over $12,000,000 in annual local school taxes (2007).[20]

Special events include the world's largest rattlesnake round-up, held annually since 1958 by the Sweetwater Jaycees on the second weekend in March.[21] It is held along with a gun and coin show hosted by the Sweetwater Rifle and Pistol Club, which was founded in the 1940s.[22]


Sweetwater is located at 32°28′5″N 100°24′26″W / 32.46806°N 100.40722°W / 32.46806; -100.40722 (32.468147, –100.407125).[23]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.0 sq mi (26 km2), all of it land.[citation needed]

Sweetwater is the center of the Western Hemisphere's leading wind power generation region and West Texas has more than 4,000 MW of operational wind energy. Nolan County alone would currently rank as the eighth-largest "nation" in terms of wind energy generation - with more than 1,500 MW installed.[24]


Climate type occurs primarily on the periphery of the true deserts in low-latitude semiarid steppe regions. The Köppen climate classification subtype for this climate is BSk (tropical and subtropical steppe climate).[25]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)10,469[2]−4.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[26]

2020 census[edit]

Sweetwater racial composition[27]
(NH = Non-Hispanic)[a]
Race Number Percentage
White (NH) 5,158 48.56%
Black or African American (NH) 592 5.57%
Native American or Alaska Native (NH) 24 0.23%
Asian (NH) 93 0.88%
Pacific Islander (NH) 2 0.02%
Some other race (NH) 22 0.21%
Mixed/multiracial (NH) 320 3.01%
Hispanic or Latino 4,411 41.53%
Total 10,622

As of the 2020 United States census, 10,622 people, 3,752 households, and 2,464 families were residing in the city.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[3] of 2000, 11,415 people, 4,545 households, and 3,017 families resided in the city. The population density was 1,139.4 people/sq mi (439.9/km2). The 5,202 housing units averaged 319.2/sq mi (200.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 75.29% White, 5.83% African American, 0.58% Native American, 0.32% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 15.71% from other races, and 2.21% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 31.70% of the population.

In the city, the population was distributed as 28.1% under 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 26.0% from 25 to 44, 21.1% from 45 to 64, and 15.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,293, and for a family was $29,953. Males had a median income of $27,722 versus $18,064 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,065. About 20.5% of families and 23.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.5% of those under age 18 and 22.0% of those age 65 or over.


The City of Sweetwater is served by the Sweetwater Independent School District, which includes J.P.Cowen Early Childhood Center, East Ridge Elementary, Southeast Elementary, Sweetwater Intermediate School, Sweetwater Middle School, and Sweetwater High School. For more information about Sweetwater ISD, visit the official SISD website.

Sweetwater is the home of the West Texas campus of the Texas State Technical College System, which added the first community college wind-energy program in Texas in 2007.[30] Also in 2007, TSTC constructed a demonstration 2 MW 60 Hz DeWind D8.2 prototype wind turbine for student training.[31]

In popular culture[edit]

In the 2017 novel Shadow Thirteen by Aaron K Richardson, Sweetwater is the hometown of President Katie Jefferson.

In King of the Pecos, a 1936 film starring John Wayne, Muriel Evans, and Cy Kendall, Sweetwater is portrayed as a single homestead. It is described as a necessary watering stop for the first cattle drive, presumably up what would become the Pecos Trail toward Abilene, where a new railhead has been completed.

"Sweetwater, Texas" is the last song on the 1976 Charlie Daniels Band album Saddle Tramp.

"Sweetwater, Texas" is the title of the sixth episode of the CBS Western television series Trackdown, starring Robert Culp as Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman. The episode aired on November 8, 1957. In the storyline, Gilman finds an abandoned baby in a stagecoach that has been robbed, and all other passengers were killed. His clue is the photograph of a woman, presumably the mother of the child. Paul Richards and Ray Danton guest starred.[32][33]

On the album All the Pain Money Can Buy by Fastball, "Sweetwater, Texas" is the title of the last song.[34]

Sweetwater is the namesake for the town in the 1968 Sergio Leone spaghetti Western film Once Upon a Time in the West. The town was a location in an episode of the American television show Maverick. Willie Nelson's film, Red Headed Stranger, was made in Sweetwater.

In J. K. Rowling's book Quidditch Through the Ages, one of the United States Quidditch teams mentioned is the Sweetwater All-Stars, based in Texas.

At the beginning of Kathryn Bigelow's 1987 movie Near Dark, when Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) first meets Mae (Jenny Wright) and asks where she's from, she replies "Have you ever heard of Sweetwater"? To which he replies, "Yeah, It's in Texas, close to Snyder."

Sweetwater appeared in the show Expedition Unknown – "America's Lost WWII Hero" episode eight, season six, with host Josh Gates on the Discovery Channel.

Sweetwater is the name of a stage show musical performed 17 July 2017 at Feinstein's/54 Below dinner theater in New York City,[35] derived from WASP training near Sweetwater in World War II.

Notable people[edit]



  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  6. ^ "From Bug Tussle to Tarzan, here are 40 of the oddest Texas town names". Click2Houston. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  7. ^ Trade and Transportation. (1911). United States: (n.p.). p.192
  8. ^ "Texas and Pacific Railway, Sweetwater, Texas Historical Marker". flickr.com. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  9. ^ R., HUNT, WILLIAM (15 June 2010). "SWEETWATER, TX". www.tshaonline.org. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  10. ^ http://waspmuseum.org/%7CNational[permanent dead link] WASP WWII Museum website.
  11. ^ Marina Nemir of Sweetwater, "WASP (Women's Airforce Pilots) and the Avenger Field in Sweetwater", West Texas Historical Association, annual meeting, West Texas A&M University at Canyon, April 5, 2008.
  12. ^ "City of Sweetwater, TX - Official Website - Pioneer Museum". Archived from the original on 19 January 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  13. ^ "The Sweetwater Reporter". www.sweetwaterreporter.com. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  14. ^ "RPMH – Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital". www.rpmh.net. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  15. ^ "24/7 Tee Time Booking, Golf GPS & Scoring, Memberships and Social - GolfNow". GolfNow. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  16. ^ TheMineForger (19 November 2013). "Austin VS Clay: The Pussying". Archived from the original on 2017-05-21. Retrieved 2 April 2018 – via YouTube.
  17. ^ "Texas Historical Marker - First Baptist Church of Sweetwater". Archived from the original on 2013-06-28. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  18. ^ Jensen, Will (2016-04-19). "Sweetwater residents recall devastating tornado 30 years later". KTXS. Retrieved 2019-04-26.
  19. ^ "The Roscoe Wind Farm Project, Texas, USA - Power Technology". power-technology.com. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  20. ^ http://www.moakcasey.com/articles/viewarticledoc.aspx/Nolan%20County%20Case%20Study.pdf?AID=168&DID=288[dead link]
  21. ^ The Sweetwater Jaycees' Annual Rattlesnake RoundUp - Home Page.
  22. ^ "About Us". Archived from the original on 2014-05-06. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  23. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  24. ^ Composite Technology's DeWind Announces Texas Wind Turbine Demonstration Site.
  25. ^ "Sweetwater, Texas Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  26. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  27. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  28. ^ https://www.census.gov/[not specific enough to verify]
  29. ^ "About the Hispanic Population and its Origin". www.census.gov. Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  30. ^ Block, Ben (2008-07-24). "In Windy West Texas, An Economic Boom". Archived from the original on 2009-01-09. Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  31. ^ "DeWind Plans Wind Turbine Demo Site in Sweetwater, Texas". BNET Business Network. 2007-09-06. Archived from the original on 2009-04-25. Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  32. ^ "Trackdown". Classic TV Archives. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  33. ^ Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie, Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 89 (2013), p. 105
  34. ^ "OOMH". Fastball The Band. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  35. ^ Cabaret & Concert News. "New Musical About Unsung Female WWII Pilots Takes Off in NYC". Playbill.com. Playbill NYC. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  36. ^ "Biography - Sammy Baugh". Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. Archived from the original on 2011-09-16. Retrieved 22 Nov 2011.
  37. ^ "Doyle Brunson Official Website". Retrieved 2011-11-22.
  38. ^ Dunwody, Will A. (October 4, 1917). "The Aspermont Star (Aspermont, Tex.), Vol. 20, No. 11, Ed. 1 Thursday, October 4, 1917". The Portal to Texas History.
  39. ^ istria camping quantitative analysis pula at reiresearch.com Archived 2007-04-28 at the Wayback Machine
  40. ^ "Online World of Wrestling". Retrieved 2012-07-29.
  41. ^ "Roberts, Jack - Federal Judicial Center". www.fjc.gov. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  42. ^ "Biography - Tex Robertson". Texas Swimming & Diving Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 29 November 2010. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  43. ^ Zollie Coffer Steakley.
  1. ^ Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.[28][29]

External links[edit]