Sweetwater, Tennessee

Coordinates: 35°36′10″N 84°28′18″W / 35.60278°N 84.47167°W / 35.60278; -84.47167
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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.
Coordinates: 35°36′10″N 84°28′18″W / 35.60278°N 84.47167°W / 35.60278; -84.47167
CountryUnited States
CountiesMonroe and McMinn
 • Total8.85 sq mi (22.92 km2)
 • Land8.84 sq mi (22.89 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.03 km2)
Elevation1,011 ft (308 m)
 • Total6,312
 • Density714.27/sq mi (275.79/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code423
FIPS code47-72540[5]
GNIS feature ID2405553[3]

Sweetwater is a city in Monroe and McMinn counties in the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the most populous city in Monroe County. As of the 2020 census, its population was 6,312.[4] Sweetwater is the home of the Craighead Caverns which contains the Lost Sea, the United States' largest underground lake. In 2022, TravelMag named Sweetwater one of Tennessee’s Ten Most Charming Cities.[6]


A legend states that the town's name originated from settlers’ descriptions of area springs.[7]

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.[1]


Circle Park, September 2016

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 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 (18 km2), all land.

Sweetwater is located in a valley amidst the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, and is surrounded by farmland.[7]

Historical population


2020 census[edit]

Sweetwater racial composition[10]
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.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 5,586 people, 2,315 households, and 1,537 families residing in the city. The population density was 810.1 inhabitants per square mile (312.8/km2). There were 2,511 housing units at an average density of 364.2 per square mile (140.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 86.6% White, 7.32% African American, 0.14% Native American, 1.61% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.41% from other races, and 1.97% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.6% of the population.

Sweetwater Depot, September 2016

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.


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.[7] A new Walmart Supercenter opened on September 11, 2013 and added 200 jobs to the Sweetwater area.[11] 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.[12]


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.[13] 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.[14]

Tennessee Meiji Gakuin High School was located in Sweetwater from 1989 to 2007.[15] It was located in the former Tennessee Military Institute.[16]

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[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Sally Sands, "History of Sweetwater," 2006. Retrieved: December 31, 2007.
  2. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 15, 2022.
  3. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Sweetwater, Tennessee
  4. ^ a b c "Census Population API". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 15, 2022.
  5. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  6. ^ Joseph, Paul (June 20, 2022). "The Most Charming Towns and Small Cities in Tennessee". TravelMag. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  7. ^ a b c Treadwell, David. "In Tennessee, a bastion of fading Americana, the military school, surrenders to Japanese preppies." Los Angeles Times. May 22, 1989. Section 1 National Desk, Start Page 4. Retrieved on January 12, 2012.
  8. ^ "Census of Population and Housing: Decennial Censuses". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  9. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Resident Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 11, 2013. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  10. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 26, 2021.
  11. ^ "Walmart Corporate - Walmart Ready to Reveal New Store to Sweetwater Shoppers". www.news.walmart.com. Archived from the original on October 5, 2013.
  12. ^ "Sweetwater, TN". sweetwatertn.net.
  13. ^ "2020 CENSUS - SCHOOL DISTRICT REFERENCE MAP: Monroe County, TN" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
  14. ^ "2020 CENSUS - SCHOOL DISTRICT REFERENCE MAP: McMinn County, TN" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
  15. ^ DiPane, Melissa. "Tennessee Meiji Gakuin School holds last graduation Archived 2013-07-06 at archive.today." WATE. March 9, 2007. Retrieved on January 11, 2012.
  16. ^ Fowler, Bob. "Former Meiji Gakuin school goes to Sweet Water Sustainability Institute." The Knoxville News-Sentinel. Scripps Interactive Newspapers Group. January 8, 2011. Retrieved on January 11, 2012.
  17. ^ Boyd, Tyler L. (2019). Tennessee Statesman Harry T. Burn, Woman Suffrage, Free Elections, and a Life of Service. Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press. ISBN 978-1-4671-4318-9. Retrieved May 28, 2019.

External links[edit]