Municipal building north of the Nolan County Courthouse.
"Life Is Sweet In Texas"
Location of Sweetwater
|• Mayor||Jim McKenzie|
|• City Manager||David Vela|
|• Total||10.0 sq mi (26 km2)|
|• Land||10.0 sq mi (26 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0 km2)|
|Elevation||2,169 ft (661 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||1,100/sq mi (420/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (CST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
Sweetwater is a municipality in and the seat of Nolan County, Texas, United States. It is 236 miles southeast of Amarillo and 181 miles west of Fort Worth. The population was 10,906 at the 2010 census.
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 in 1898, and three larger lakes thereafter. Construction began on the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway in 1903.
Sweetwater became a railroad town, with businesses and homes built along the rail line. Rail passenger service was discontinued in 1969.
Gulf Refinery operated there from 1929 to 1954, and at one time the town was a large telegraph center. The International Harvester Company operated a factory 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.
At Sweetwater during World War II, one class of British RAF pilots was trained before the air field 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. 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.
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.
The local newspaper, Sweetwater Reporter, was founded in 1881. An historic early 20th-century movie theater has been renovated and is in full use. The municipal auditorium, where Elvis Presley once performed, continues to feature live acts. Sweetwater has a hospital, founded in 1976.
First Baptist Church had one of the earliest congregations in Sweetwater, and it continues to thrive.
Sweetwater is the center of the leading wind power generation region of the Western Hemisphere. It is sometimes incorrectly called the "Wind Turbine Capital of Texas." The largest wind farm in Texas is Roscoe Wind Farm. 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).
Special events include the world's largest rattlesnake round-up, held annually since 1958 by the Sweetwater Jaycees on the second weekend in March. It is held along with a gun and coin show hosted by the Sweetwater Rifle and Pistol Club, which was founded in the 1940s.
According to Tom Henderson, a member of the Sweetwater Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors:
"If you're bored here, it's your own fault."
Sweetwater is located at (32.468147, -100.407125).
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.
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).
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, 11,415 people, 4,545 households, and 3,017 families resided in the city. The population density was 1,139.4 people per square mile (439.9/km²). There were 5,202 housing units at an average density of 519.2 per square mile (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 the age of 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. Also in 2007, TSTC constructed a demonstration 2 MW 60 Hz DeWind D8.2 prototype wind turbine for student training.
In popular culture
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. Pecos to Abilene is about 250 miles, but the characters describe the trail as 1600 miles, although they seem to make the passage with cattle in a short time.
"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 story line, Gilman finds an abandoned baby in a stagecoach which 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 star.
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.
- Sammy Baugh, Hall of Fame NFL and TCU football player, was from Sweetwater.
- Doyle Brunson, the poker legend called "The Texas Dolly"
- Richard Chitwood, state representative for Nolan County from 1921 to 1925; first business manager of Texas Tech University
- Texas Ranger Frank Hamer and his brother Gus had a pistol fight on October 1, 1917 in Sweetwater with Gee McMeans, in which the former Ranger and sheriff of Ector County, Texas was killed. He was a brother-in-law of the late Ed Sims of Snyder, Texas. In 1917 Hamer had married Gladys (Johnson) Sims, widow of Ed Sims. She and her brother were charged with killing Sims in 1916.
- John Layfield, retired professional wrestler, is best known for wrestling as "Bradshaw" or "JBL" with the WWE. Layfield is a guest panelist on Fox News Channel's The Cost of Freedom, Layfield is also employed by Northeast Securities as its Senior Vice President.
- Blackjack Mulligan, retired professional wrestler, was best known for his work in the American Wrestling Association and the National Wrestling Alliance.
- Jack Roberts (1910-1988) was a United States federal judge of U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas
- Tex Robertson, University of Texas swimming coach, was born in Sweetwater.
- Zollie Coffer Steakley, Jr., Texas Secretary of State and Texas Supreme Court, practiced law in Sweetwater during the 1930s.
- Libby Thompson, 19th-century brothel owner here
- Barry Windham, retired professional wrestler, was best known for his work with Jim Crockett Promotions.
- Kendall Windham, retired pro wrestler
- Bobby Witcher, an amateur herpetologist best known for his charismatic personality and carefree handling of venomous snakes, was born in Sweetwater in 1916.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sweetwater, Texas.|
- on YouTube showing construction of a DeWind turbine for Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater
- Elvis Presley two performances in Sweetwater 1954-55