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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
Country United States
State Texas
County Nolan
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Total 11.07 sq mi (28.68 km2)
 • Land 11.07 sq mi (28.68 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
2,169 ft (661 m)
 • Total 10,906
 • Estimate 
 • Density 945.37/sq mi (365.01/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code 325
FIPS code 48-71540
GNIS ID 1348139

Sweetwater is a municipality in and the seat of Nolan County, Texas, United States. It is 123 miles southeast of Lubbock and 40 miles west of Abilene, Texas. Its 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 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, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) were trained under the direction of the famed aviator Jacqueline Cochran at Sweetwater's Avenger Field. These WASPs were the first women to fly American military aircraft. The military airstrip closed abruptly at the end of the war, but 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, when U.S. Senator Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona and Colonel Bruce Arnold, late son of General Hap Arnold, persisted in obtaining their official recognition as military veterans. In 1970, the field became the site of Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater.

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

Sweetwater has a hospital (founded 1976), an 18-hole golf course (opened 1958), a local newspaper (founded 1881), a municipal auditorium (where Elvis Presley once performed), a historic renovated movie theater, and a large public swimming pool, as well as public fishing and recreational facilities at Lake Sweetwater.

One of the earliest congregations that continues to exist in Sweetwater is First Baptist Church.

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.

Sweetwater is the center of the Western Hemisphere's leading wind power generation region. It is sometimes incorrectly called the "Wind Turbine Capital of Texas", as the largest wind farm in Texas is the Roscoe Wind Farm. which does not regulate wind power. About 1,330 direct wind-related jobs were created in Nolan County alone (in 2009), with almost $18,000,000 in annual landowner royalties and over $12,000,000 in annual local school taxes (2007).

The world's largest rattlesnake Round-Up has been held annually by the Sweetwater Jaycees on the second weekend in March since 1958, along with the 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°28′5″N 100°24′26″W / 32.46806°N 100.40722°W / 32.46806; -100.40722 (32.468147, -100.407125).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.0 square miles (26 km2), all of it land.

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).


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 614
1900 670 9.1%
1910 4,176 523.3%
1920 4,307 3.1%
1930 10,848 151.9%
1940 10,367 −4.4%
1950 13,619 31.4%
1960 13,914 2.2%
1970 12,020 −13.6%
1980 12,242 1.8%
1990 11,967 −2.2%
2000 11,415 −4.6%
2010 10,906 −4.5%
2019 (est.) 10,469 −4.0%
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/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 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.

In popular culture

In King of the Pecos, a 1936 film starring John Wayne, Muriel Evans, and Cy Kendall, Sweetwater is portrayed as a single homestead and said to be a necessary watering stop for the first cattle drive presumably up what would become the Pecos Trail towards Abilene, where a new railhead has been completed. Pecos to Abilene is about 250 miles, but said to be 1600 miles by characters in the movie, though they cross the distance with cattle in a short time.

"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 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.

On the album All the Pain Money Can Buy by Fastball, "Sweetwater, Texas" is name of the last song.

Sweetwater is the namesake for the town in the film 1968 Sergio Leone spaghetti western 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 Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical Oklahoma!, Jud Fry refers to an act of arson that takes place in Sweetwater.

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


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.

Notable people

  • Joe Banyard, former NFL player for the Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, and Buffalo Bills
  • Sammy Baugh, Hall of Fame NFL and TCU football player, was born in Temple. He went to school at Newman High School and played for the Sweetwater Mustang football team
  • Doyle Brunson, the poker legend called "Texas Dolly"
  • Frank Hamer, a Texas Ranger who along with 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
  • John Layfield, retired professional wrestler, is best known for wrestling as "Bradshaw" or "JBL" with the WWE. Layfield was a guest panelist on Fox News Channel's The Cost of Freedom, and 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
  • Clyde Bulldog Turner, a graduate of Sweetwater High School, is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • Bobby Witcher, an amateur herpetologist best known for his charismatic personality and carefree handling of venomous snakes, was born in Sweetwater in 1916

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Sweetwater (Texas) para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Distinguished Hispanic diplomats
Raymond Telles
Esteban Torres
Romualdo Pacheco
Raúl Héctor Castro
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