Alva, Oklahoma

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Alva is a city in Woods County, Oklahoma, along the Salt Fork Arkansas River. The population was 5,288 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Woods County[3].

Established in 1893, the town got a normal school in 1897 that became today's Northwestern Oklahoma State University.[4]


History and Description

Alva was established in 1893 as a 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.

Alva is home to Northwestern Oklahoma State University (NWOSU), founded in 1897 as a normal school.[4] The college's main building for a time was 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, to be replaced by the more staid Jesse Dunn Hall, which was dedicated in 1937 by Eleanor Roosevelt.

Today, the city council is actively soliciting murals -- one of the most recent is of the storied Castle—and trying to attract businesses and tourists to keep people in town, important as the population of Woods County has been dropping since the 1930s. Alva lost 200 people between 1990 and 2000 according to official census figures. It has a Wal-Mart Supercenter that is one of the smallest supercenters ever built. The area is generally religious, with 16 different churches, all Christian, in town. The city is one of the few of its size in Oklahoma to still boast a daily newspaper, the Alva Review-Courier.


Alva is located in the northeastern quadrant of Woods County, Oklahoma, 65 miles northeast of Woodward, Oklahoma and 72 miles northwest of Enid, Oklahoma.[4] 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)[5].

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