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Alva, Oklahoma
City
Location of Alva within Oklahoma
Location of Alva within Oklahoma
Country United States
State Oklahoma
County Woods
Incorporated 1893; 129 years ago (1893)
Government
 • Type Council-manager
Area
 • Total 6.40 sq mi (16.57 km2)
 • Land 6.40 sq mi (16.57 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Elevation
1,348 ft (411 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total 4,945
 • Estimate 
(2019)
4,953
 • Density 774.15/sq mi (298.89/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
73717
Area code(s) 580
FIPS code 40-01800
GNIS feature ID 1089605
Website alvaok.org

Alva is a city in and the county seat of Woods County, Oklahoma, United States, along the Salt Fork Arkansas River. The population was 4,945 at the 2010 census. Northwestern Oklahoma State University is located in Alva.

History

Alva was established in 1893 as a land office for the Cherokee Outlet land run, the largest of the land rushes that settled western and central Oklahoma. The site was chosen for its location on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway and likely named for a railroad attorney, Alva Adams, who had become governor of Colorado.

When the Southern Kansas Railway, began extending its line from Kiowa, Kansas across the Cherokee Outlet in 1886, Alva became the first railroad station southwest of Kiowa. The line was operational in 1887, in time for the opening of the Unassigned Lands.

The Secretary of the Interior chose Alva as the seat of County M when Oklahoma Territory was organized in 1890. A U.S. government land office opened there before a presidential proclamation on August 19, 1893, opened the Cherokee Outlet for general settlement . The actual land run occurred September 16, 1893. By then, Alva's 320 acres (1.3 km2) site had been formally surveyed and platted.

Northwestern Territorial Normal School now Northwestern Oklahoma State University, was established in 1897 in Alva by the Territorial Legislature.

During World War II, Alva was the site of a prisoner of war camp for German POWs. On July 19, 1943, the United States Department of War ordered that Camp Alva would be the place for the internment of the most troublesome German prisoners of war – "Nazi leaders, Gestapo agents, and extremists".

Today, the city council is actively soliciting murals and trying to attract businesses and tourists to keep people in town. Alva lost 200 people between 1990 and 2000 according to official census figures. The Alva Review-Courier is published Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Alva is also the location of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections minimum-security Charles E. Johnson Correctional Center housing 630 male felon drug offenders.

Geography

Alva is located in the northeastern quadrant of Woods County, Oklahoma, 65 miles (105 km) northeast of Woodward, Oklahoma, 72 miles (116 km) northwest of Enid, Oklahoma and 119 miles (192 km) southwest of Wichita, Kansas. Its geographic coordinates are 36°48′7″N 98°39′57″W / 36.80194°N 98.66583°W / 36.80194; -98.66583 (36.801931, −98.665959). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.4 square miles (6.2 km2), all land.

Climate

Climate data for Alva, Oklahoma
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 85
(29.4)
89
(31.7)
99
(37.2)
100
(37.8)
106
(41.1)
114
(45.6)
120
(48.9)
118
(47.8)
115
(46.1)
103
(39.4)
92
(33.3)
85
(29.4)
120
(48.9)
Average high °F (°C) 48
(8.9)
53
(11.7)
62
(16.7)
72
(22.2)
80
(26.7)
91
(32.8)
96
(35.6)
96
(35.6)
88
(31.1)
76
(24.4)
61
(16.1)
50
(10)
72.8
(22.64)
Average low °F (°C) 23
(-5)
26
(-3.3)
34
(1.1)
45
(7.2)
54
(12.2)
64
(17.8)
69
(20.6)
68
(20)
60
(15.6)
48
(8.9)
34
(1.1)
31
(-0.6)
46.3
(7.96)
Record low °F (°C) −15
(-26.1)
−16
(-26.7)
−5
(-20.6)
16
(-8.9)
25
(-3.9)
41
(5)
51
(10.6)
45
(7.2)
31
(-0.6)
10
(-12.2)
5
(-15)
−10
(-23.3)
−16
(-26.7)
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.9
(23)
1.2
(30)
1.6
(41)
2.6
(66)
4.1
(104)
3.7
(94)
2.5
(64)
3.1
(79)
2.8
(71)
2.2
(56)
1.5
(38)
1.0
(25)
27.3
(693)
Snowfall inches (cm) 3.5
(8.9)
4.8
(12.2)
3.2
(8.1)
0.2
(0.5)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1.1
(2.8)
3.3
(8.4)
16.1
(40.9)
Source: Weatherbase

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 1,499
1910 3,688 146.0%
1920 3,913 6.1%
1930 5,121 30.9%
1940 5,055 −1.3%
1950 6,505 28.7%
1960 6,258 −3.8%
1970 7,440 18.9%
1980 6,416 −13.8%
1990 5,495 −14.4%
2000 5,288 −3.8%
2010 4,945 −6.5%
Est. 2019 4,953 0.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 4,945 people, 2,107 households, 1,134 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,100 people per square mile (800/km2). There were 2,568 housing units at an average density of 1,110 per square mile (425/km2). Self-identified white residents made up 90% of the population, with the remainder composed of 2% African American, 2.1% Native American, 1.1% Asian, less than 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2% from other races, and 2.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.6% of the population.

Of the 2,107 households, a quarter (24.9%) included individuals under the age of 18, 40.8% were married couples, 13.1% had a householder with no spouse present, and 46.2% were non-families. More than a third of households (36%) consisted of a single individual. Less than a quarter (13.2%) consisted of an individual age 65 or older living alone. The average household size was 2.17. The average family size was 2.86.

Transportation

U.S. Route 64 runs east–west through the center of the city, intersecting U.S. Route 281, which runs north–south. Route 281 joins Route 64 for one mile between College Boulevard (west) and Lane Boulevard (east) on Oklahoma Boulevard.

Alva Regional Airport, a 650-acre general aviation facility owned and operated by the city, is immediately south of the city on the west side of U.S. Route 281.

Alva is located on the Panhandle Subdivision of the Southern Transcon route of the BNSF Railway. This is the main transcontinental route between Los Angeles and Chicago, and carries an average of 90 freight trains per day. In January 2015 BNSF Railway announced an expansion project to add a second track between Wellington, Kansas and Avard, Oklahoma passing through Alva as part of a $175 million expansion in the South Region. By October of 2018, the entire Southern Transcon was double-tracked, except for two bridges.

In popular culture

  • Don Draper spends most of the penultimate episode of the Mad Men series, "The Milk and Honey Route", in Alva.

Economy

Agriculture has been the basis of the city's economy since it was founded. Initially, the local farms produced a variety of crops and livestock. The original 160-acre farms have mostly been consolidated into much larger units, concentrating on production of beef and wheat.

Aeronautics firm Vantage Plane Plastics, located at the airport, claims the title of "the world's largest supplier of FAA Approved interior components for most all general aviation aircraft", employing 24 people with 2016 gross sales of $3.8 Million.

In 1998 a group of local wheat farmers founded the frozen dough manufacturing facility, Value Added Products, a cooperative that in 2017 employed 83 people with an annual payroll of $2.2 Million.

NWOSU is the largest employer in Alva.

Currently Alva has a city sales tax of 4.35%, the Woods County tax rate of 0.5% and a State tax rate of 4.5% for a combined tax rate of 9.25%

Education

Castleonhill
Northwestern Normal School, 1901

Alva is home to Northwestern Oklahoma State University (NWOSU), founded in 1897 as a 'Northwestern Normal School'. President James E. Ament and two teachers made up the first faculty, with classes meeting in the Congregational Church. The college's main building was built in 1899 and known as the "Castle on the Hill," a huge, fanciful brick building, modeled after a Norman castle, that towered over much of the town. The Castle burned down in 1935 and was replaced by Jesse Dunn Hall, which was dedicated in 1937 by Eleanor Roosevelt. By 1939, all of the normal schools, including Northwestern State College, offered bachelor's degrees and were reclassified as state colleges. In the 1950s, Northwestern added a fifth-year program culminating in a master's degree. In 1974, the name changed to its present 'Northwestern Oklahoma State University'. In 1996, branch campuses in Woodward and Enid expanded the university's useful service area. The university also boasts a proud tradition in athletics, competing as the Northwestern Oklahoma State Rangers in the Great American Conference. Formerly residing in the Sooner Athletic Conference in the NAIA, the Rangers made the move to NCAA Division II membership in 2012 under the direction of current university president Dr. Janet Cunningham, and former Director of Athletics Andrew Carter.

Northwest Technology Center is based in Alva.

The Alva Independent School District oversees the five public school facilities and a district office in the Alva area.

Notable people

See also: List of Northwestern Oklahoma State University notable people
  • Jessie Thatcher Bost (1875-1963), first female student at Oklahoma A&M university (now Oklahoma State University) moved to Alva in 1908.
  • Scott Case, former NFL player.
  • Jesse James Dunn, settled in Alva after 1893 Land Run; became one of the first justices named to the Oklahoma State Supreme Court.
  • Lex Frieden, disability activist, was born in Alva.
  • Mitchell Gale, former quarterback for Abilene Christian University and the Saskatchewan Roughriders, was born in Alva and graduated from Alva High School.
  • Jack Ging, actor, was born in Alva.
  • Joe L. Heaton, United States federal judge seated on the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, was born in Alva.
  • Hugh Johnson, Army officer, businessman, speech writer, government official, newspaper columnist, graduated from Alva High School in 1897.
  • Marilyn Mason, concert organist, was born in Alva.
  • Bill McGill, former Major League Baseball player with St. Louis Browns.
  • Lester Raymer, multidisciplinary artist
  • Herbert D. Smith, former member of Oklahoma House of Representatives elected in 1954, was born in Alva.
  • Randy Terrill, former member of Oklahoma House of Representatives, was born in Alva
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