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Sweetwater, Tennessee
Downtown area, September 2016
Downtown area, September 2016
Location of Sweetwater in Monroe County and Mcminn County, Tennessee.
Location of Sweetwater in Monroe County and Mcminn County, Tennessee.
Country United States
State Tennessee
Counties Monroe and McMinn
Established 1850s
Incorporated 1875
Area
 • Total 8.85 sq mi (22.92 km2)
 • Land 8.84 sq mi (22.89 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.03 km2)
Elevation
912 ft (278 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 6,312
 • Estimate 
(2019)
5,895
 • Density 667.08/sq mi (257.57/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
37874
Area code(s) 423
FIPS code 47-72540
GNIS feature ID 1303970

Sweetwater is a city in Monroe and McMinn counties in the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the most populous city in Monroe County. The population was 5764 at the 2010 census and 6,312 at the 2020 census. Sweetwater is the home of the Craighead Caverns which contains the Lost Sea, the United States' largest underground lake.

History

A legend states that the town's name originated from settler's descriptions of area springs.

Sweetwater was established in the 1850s on a series of lots sold by Isaac Lenoir (1807–1875), a local politician and son of the founder of Lenoir City (located a few miles to the northeast in Loudon County). Sweetwater was officially incorporated in 1875.

Geography

Sweetwater is located at 35°36′9″N 84°28′1″W / 35.60250°N 84.46694°W / 35.60250; -84.46694 (35.602604, -84.466992). The city lies along Sweetwater Creek, which flows northeast for several miles before emptying into the Watts Bar Lake impoundment of the Tennessee River. The creek's drainage has created a lowland area known as Sweetwater Valley, which is surrounded by low hills.

Sweetwater-park-Main-tn1
Circle Park

Sweetwater is centered along U.S. Route 11 between its junction with State Route 68 to the south and State Route 322 to the north. Interstate 75 passes along the western boundary of Sweetwater.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.9 square miles (17.9 km²), all land.

Sweetwater is located in a valley amidst the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, and is surrounded by farmland.

Demographics

2020 census

Sweetwater racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 5,261 83.35%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 328 5.2%
Native American 11 0.17%
Asian 47 0.74%
Other/Mixed 353 5.59%
Hispanic or Latino 312 4.94%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 6,312 people, 2,175 households, and 1,633 families residing in the city.

Economy

All except smallest boy work in Sweetwater Hosiery Co. He is a dinner carrier, but others like him and smaller work... - NARA - 523367
Sweetwater Hosiery Co., December 1910

As of 1989, most of the economy consisted of agriculture business. In addition, some light industry is located in Sweetwater, including a chemical factory, a hosiery mill, and a stove plant. A new Walmart Supercenter opened on September 11, 2013 and added 200 jobs to the Sweetwater area. A Rural King store opened in Feb 2018. On January 15, 2022, Red Stag Fulfillment announced plans to develop a 420-acre ecommerce distribution center along I-75, estimated to provide 3,500 jobs and annual tax revenue of $1.9 million to the city of Sweetwater.

Education

TMI Sign
Tennessee Meiji Gakuin High School entrance sign, November 2014

Sweetwater City Schools operates public elementary and middle schools in the portion of the city in Monroe County, with Monroe County Schools operating high school services. Sweetwater High School is part of the Monroe district.

The U.S. Census Bureau indicates the Sweetwater district is entirely in Monroe County, and that the small McMinn County portion of the city is in McMinn County Schools.

Tennessee Meiji Gakuin High School was located in Sweetwater from 1989 to 2007. It was located in the former Tennessee Military Institute.

Cross Creek K-12 operates as a private Christian school. It was developed by the couple Harold Jeffers Darragh, who also developed Willow Creek, and Karen Darragh.

Notable people

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