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Sweetwater, Tennessee
Downtown area
Downtown area
Location of Sweetwater, Tennessee
Location of Sweetwater, Tennessee
Country United States
State Tennessee
Counties Monroe and McMinn
Established 1850s
Incorporated 1875
 • Total 6.9 sq mi (17.9 km2)
 • Land 6.9 sq mi (17.9 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
912 ft (278 m)
 • Total 5,764
 • Density 810.1/sq mi (312.8/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
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 5,586 at the 2000 census and 5,764 at the 2010 census. Sweetwater is the home of the Craighead Caverns which contains the Lost Sea, the United States' largest underground lake.


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.


Sweetwater is located at 35°36′9″N 84°28′1″W / 35.6025°N 84.46694°W / 35.6025; -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.

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.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 677
1890 879 29.8%
1900 1,716 95.2%
1910 1,850 7.8%
1920 1,972 6.6%
1930 2,271 15.2%
1940 2,593 14.2%
1950 4,199 61.9%
1960 4,145 −1.3%
1970 4,340 4.7%
1980 4,725 8.9%
1990 5,066 7.2%
2000 5,586 10.3%
2010 5,764 3.2%
Est. 2015 5,931 2.9%

As of the census of 2000, there were 5,586 people, 2,315 households, and 1,537 families residing in the city. The population density was 810.1 people per square mile (312.6/km²). There were 2,511 housing units at an average density of 364.2 per square mile (140.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 89.72% White, 7.32% African American, 0.14% Native American, 0.91% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.41% from other races, and 1.47% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.95% of the population.

Sweetwater Depot

There were 2,315 households out of which 27.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.0% were married couples living together, 13.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.6% were non-families. 30.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the city, the population was spread out with 23.0% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 25.1% from 25 to 44, 23.3% from 45 to 64, and 20.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 82.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,323, and the median income for a family was $35,269. Males had a median income of $29,982 versus $23,075 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,746. About 11.5% of families and 16.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.5% of those under age 18 and 18.1% of those age 65 or over.

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