Alva, Oklahoma

Alva, Oklahoma
The "Charles Share" mural painted by artist Don Gray under commission from the Alva Mural Society in 2004.[1]
The "Charles Share" mural painted by artist Don Gray under commission from the Alva Mural Society in 2004. [1]
Location of Alva within Oklahoma
Location of Alva within Oklahoma
Coordinates: 36°48′21″N 98°40′04″W / 36.80583°N 98.66778°W / 36.80583; -98.66778Coordinates: 36°48′21″N 98°40′04″W / 36.80583°N 98.66778°W / 36.80583; -98.66778
Country United States
State Oklahoma
County Woods
Incorporated 1893; 127 years ago (1893)
 • Type Council-manager
 • Mayor Mayor Kelly Parker
 • City manager Joe Don Dunham
 • Total 6.40 sq mi (16.57 km2)
 • Land 6.40 sq mi (16.57 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
1,348 ft (411 m)
 ( 2010) [4]
 • Total 4,945
 • Estimate 
(2019) [5]
 • Density 774.15/sq mi (298.89/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 580
FIPS code 40-01800[6]
GNIS feature ID 1089605[7]

Alva is a city in and the county seat of Woods County, Oklahoma, United States,[8] along the Salt Fork Arkansas River. The population was 4,945 at the 2010 census.[4] Northwestern Oklahoma State University is located in Alva.[9]


Alva was established in 1893 as a General 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.[9]

The United States 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.[9]

In 1896, three years after the land run, George Cromwell and "Coal Oil Johnny" Broughan created and managed the Alva Giants, the city's first traveling baseball team including pitcher Bill McGill, who went on to join the St. Louis Browns in 1907.[10][11]

Northwestern Territorial Normal School, now Northwestern Oklahoma State University, was established in 1897 in Alva by the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature.[9]

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".[12]

Alva is also the location of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections minimum-security Charles E. Johnson Correctional Center housing 630 male felon drug offenders.[13]


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.[9] 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).[14] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.4 square miles (6.2 km2), all land.



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%
2019 (est.) 4,953 [5] 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.[4] 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).[4] 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.

2000 census

As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 5,288 people, 2,205 households, and 1,261 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,228.6 people per square mile (861.5/km2). There were 2,644 housing units at an average density of 1,114.3 per square mile (430.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.99% White, 1.30% African American, 1.34% Native American, 0.78% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.23% from other races, and 1.32% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.82% of the population.

There were 2,205 households, out of which 23.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.1% were married couples living together, 8.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.8% were non-families. 34.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.81.

In the city the population was spread out, with 18.9% under the age of 18, 21.7% from 18 to 24, 20.5% from 25 to 44, 18.9% from 45 to 64, and 20.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,432, and the median income for a family was $38,041. Males had a median income of $27,531 versus $17,981 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,966. About 9.1% of families and 17.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.8% of those under age 18 and 7.0% of those age 65 or over.


Alva is home to Northwestern Oklahoma State University (NWOSU), founded in 1897 as a 'Northwestern Normal School'.[9] 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.[16] 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 5 public school facilities and a district office in the Alva area.


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.[9]

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.[17][18]

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.[19][20]

NWOSU is the largest employer in Alva.[9]

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%[21]


Alva has an aldermanic form of government.[9]


U.S. Route 64 runs east–west through the center of the city, intersecting U.S. Route 281, which runs north–south. U.S. Route 281 joins U.S. Route 64 for one mile between College Boulevard (west) and Lane Boulevard (east) on Oklahoma Boulevard.[22]

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.[22]

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. Work on the project will start by 2016 and is expected to be completed by 2017.[23][24]

Local Media

Notable people

In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ "Charles Share Mural". Travel OK. Archived from the original on April 14, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  2. ^ "Alva City Mayor". City of Alva. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  3. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d "2010 City Population and Housing Occupancy Status". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved October 18, 2013. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  6. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  7. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  8. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Reichenberger, Donovan. "Alva," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Accessed June 21, 2010.
  10. ^ Keith, Harold (1971). "Summer Dementia" (PDF). Oklahoma Today. pp. 21–22. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  11. ^ "Austin Senators, 44-0" (PDF). Diamonds in the dusk. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 27, 2016. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  12. ^ Hurt, R. Douglas (2008). The Great Plains During World War II. U of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9780803224094. Retrieved April 6, 2014.
  13. ^ "Charles E. "Bill" Johnson Correctional Center". Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Archived from the original on June 19, 2015. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  14. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  15. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Alva, Oklahoma, United States".
  16. ^ "Three buildings celebrating 70th year" (PDF). Northwestern Oklahoma State University. Archived from the original (pdf) on February 5, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  17. ^ Coppock, Mike (November 15, 2017). "Alva aeronautics firm finds niche producing pieces for private aircraft". The Oklahoman. Archived from the original on January 1, 1970. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  18. ^ "company history". Archived from the original on August 13, 2017. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  19. ^ Miller, Yvonne (February 8, 2017). "VAP shows a profit, has sales growth, $2.2 million payroll" (pdf). Newsgram. The Alva Review-Courier. pp. 22, 24. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 1, 2017. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  20. ^ "Made in Oklahoma – Value Added Products". Oklahoma Horizon. November 21, 2010. Archived from the original on September 29, 2016. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  21. ^ "Rates and Codes for Sales, Use, and Lodging Tax" (PDF). Oklahoma Tax commission. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 10, 2017. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  22. ^ a b "Department of Transportation 2015–2016 Official State Map" (PDF). ODOT. Oklahoma Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  23. ^ Casas, Amy. "BNSF Invests Across its Regions to Expand Capacity and Maintain Vast Network". Archived from the original on March 12, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  24. ^ Miller, Jessica. "BNSF plans include double tracking near, through Alva". The Enid News and Eagle. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  25. ^ Reichenberger, Donovan. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. "Woods County." Retrieved January 1, 2013.[1]
  26. ^ Dean, will (May 10, 2015). "Mad Men recap: season seven, episode 13 – The Milk and Honey Route". Mad Men: Notes from the break room. The Guardian. Archived from the original on June 9, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2017.

External links