Lake Sweetwater History

Lake Sweetwater Texas Timeline & Trivia

  1. Odd bits about Lake Sweetwater gleaned from old newspapers and other sources.  I am just getting started with this so not many entries yet and there will be gaps.

  2. 12 Apr 1929  Bond issue passes for the building of Lake Sweetwater.

  3. Dec 1929  Construction of Lake Sweetwater lake bed and dam begins.

  4. 20 Aug 193o  First drowning.  Rudolph Avila, 18, employed at the dam construction camp, drowns while swimming with other company workers.

  5. Nov 1930  Womack Henning Rollins Construction Co increases workforce to 200 men in surge to finish Lake Sweetwater.

  6. Dec 1930  Construction of Lake Sweetwater lake bed and dam ends.

  7. 12 Jan 1931  City of Sweetwater accepts Lake Sweetwater from contractors.

  8. July 1931  10,000 bass placed in Lake Sweetwater from hatchery in Cisco.  Shipments of crappie were to follow in the fall.

  9. 6 Sep 1932  Lake Sweetwater runs over its spillway for the first time.

  10. 8 Jun 1933  Buffalo Trails Boy Scout Council selects a site at Lake Sweetwater for a permanent Boy Scout camp.

  11. Aug 1933.  J.L. Webb has a cabin at the lake.

  12. Jun 1934 Ben McCorkle has a cabin at the lake.

  13. Jun 1934 Dulaney-Perry cottage is known as “Mountainaire”.

  14. Jun 1934 R.M. Simmons has a lake lodge named “Breezy Point”.

  15. Jun 1934 Abe Levy has a lake home named “Highpoint”.

  16. Jun 1934 Ed Mays has a stone lodge named “Cassa Laguna”.

  17. Jun 1934 Joe Bowen, George and Howell Beakley have a beach home named “Casita” with a 15 foot spring board.  This was the second cottage built at the lake in the spring of 1933.

  18. Jun 1934  Dent Beall has a cabin at the lake.

  19. 14-15 Jun 1934  Grand ceremony and celebration accompanies formal dedication and opening of  Lake Sweetwater and its park areas.

  20. 18 Sep 1934  Bond issue passes for $122,000 to build a pipeline and pump station from Lake Sweetwater to the city.

  21. 22 Sep 1934 Capt Hubbard, US Army, arrives to take bids to build a Civilian Conservation Corps camp at Lake Sweetwater for 225 men.

  22. 13 Jun 1935  Lake Sweetwater runs a foot deep over its spillway after 11 inches of rain falls in less than two hours.

  23. 15 Aug 1936  Body of murdered Trent man G.H. Jones  recovered from Lake Sweetwater after confession of assailant Clarence Duncan.

  24. 3 Oct  1936  68,000 people visited Lake Sweetwater during the summer of 1936 according to Texas State Parks Board and CCC camp personnel.

  25. 23 May 1937  Lake Sweetwater tavern and dance hall known as “The Night Spot” listed in local newspapers for sale after operator loses liquor license.  The tavern was described as “doing good business” and as being located at the “South West, double entrances to Lake Sweetwater”.

  26. 29 Jun - 1 Jul 1937 The governor of Texas, James Allred, vacations for three days at the Lake Sweetwater cabin of City Manager Sam Bothwell.

  27. Nov 1937  12,00 to 15,00 crappie and 25,000 brim  transferred from Lake Sweetwater’s own hatchery ponds to the main lake.

  28. July 1938  Dedication ceremony held for a cabin and flagpole at the Boy Scout camp at Lake Sweetwater.  The cabin was moved from the old CCC camp near the dam, repainted, and remodeled.  The flagpole was donated by the local VFW.

  29. 17 Dec 1938  Overnight camp and investiture ceremonies held at Boy Scout cabin at Lake Sweetwater for the Buffalo Trail Council’s chapter of the Order of the Arrow.  Sweetwater boys include Charles Ritter, Billy White, and Dewitt Conley.

  30. Spring 1939  Lake Sweetwater golf course grows from nine holes to eighteen.

  31. Spring 1939  “Riding academy” added to Lake Sweetwater attractions with bridle paths in the area below the dam.   

  32. 25 July 1939  Fred Buhler, 18 of New Orleans, drowns after being knocked into the water by a swinging sailboat boom.

  33. 20 or 21 May 1941  Lake Sweetwater running over the spillway six inches deep after 3.5 inch downpour.

  34. 12 Jun 1941  Permanent Boy Scout camp at Lake Sweetwater bustling.  Activities include swimming, boating, hiking, archery, rifle practice, handicraft, first aid, nature study, and emergency service training.

  35. 25 Apr 1942  Nolan county citizens vote 1703 to 1363 to ban sale of all intoxicating beverages.

  36. 9 July 1945  Lake Sweetwater reported to be “running over the spillway for the first time since 1942”.

  37. 31 July 1945 Sisters Mrs Trevanell Boone and Mrs May Maxine Cheaney drown in a boating accident.

  38. 16 Sep 1945  5,000 gather to watch Lake Sweetwater boat races sponsored by the Sweetwater Junior Chamber of Commerce (JAYCEEs).

  39. 4 Jul 1946  5,600 paid admissions reported for the second annual Lake Sweetwater Regatta.

  40. 14 Aug 1947  Small aircraft cuts a power line and crashes into Lake Sweetwater.  The pilot, Jesse Owen 26 and passenger Mary Sue Crowe 17, are rescued by a nearby motorboat.

  41. 2 - 7 Aug 1954  Lake Sweetwater Boy Scout aquatic camp held.  Activities include fishing, lifesaving, swimming, canoeing, regular Scout skills, and a rifle and archery range.  Cost $1.50 per boy.  Leaders include Bill McRee, Bob Eastus, and H.D. Norris.

  42. 25 - 30 Aug 1955 Lake Sweetwater Boy Scout aquatic camp held again.

  43. 1 - 3 June 1957 Lake Sweetwater reported to be “running over the spillway for the first time in 12 years”.

  44. 28 Jul 1959  Texas Game and Fish Commission tells Sweetwater city commission that a 5 year study indicates that 83 per cent of the fish in Lake Sweetwater are undesirable and recommends a total fish kill followed by restocking.

  45. 19 May 1962  Airman 2C Robert Muhlstein from the Sweetwater Air Force Station drowns in skiing mishap.

  46. 19 May 1963  Dr J.R. Pace advertises his 50 ft Lake Sweetwater cabin for sale for $3,750.

  47. 7 Aug 1966  The lake store, then known as Sportsman’s Landing Marina, advertised by T.L. Donohoo for sale for $8,000 (which included $7,000 of inventory).

  48. Summer 1968  Sweetwater teenagers form the Sweetwater Community Youth Theater put on several plays at the outdoor “Old Stone Theater” amphitheater below the Lake Sweetwater dam.  Teen participants include Philip Curry, Woody Pyeatt, Kathy Kinney, Barbara Lewis,  Susan Chapman, Lindy Jones, Ken Allen, Mike Ondrusek, and Debbie Etz.  Adult director is Mrs Phil (Linda) Davis.

  49. 4 Jul 1968  Louis Rush 38 of Hobbs New Mexico drowns in floating raft accident complicated by large waves from a passing boat.

  50. 4 Jul 1969  Sweetwater Jaycees sponsor boat races, water ski show, and fireworks display at Lake Sweetwater.

  51. 12 May 1971 Terry Boley pulls a 52 lb yellow catfish from Lake Sweetwater.  The Chamber of Commerce - as a lake promotion - buys it, tags it with the number 2120, puts it back in the lake, and offers $100 to the person who catches it again.

  52. 27 Apr 1972  Ed Green and A.J. Reed catch catfish number 2120, now weighing 53 lbs, and claim the $100 prize.

  53. 18 Sep 1988 A tornado spun off from Hurricane Gilbert touches down at Lake Sweetwater.  Only minor damage reported.

  1. 9 June 1997 Lake Sweetwater reported to be “running two feet over the spillway” by San Angelo Hydrologic Service Area office.

18 March 2003 - 10 April 2003 Golden Algae bloom kills most fish in Lake Sweetwater.  The bloom began as the level of the drought stricken lake approached about 24 feet below the spillway.

17/18 Aug 2007  Lake Sweetwater gained 30 feet of water over night as Tropical Storm Erin passed through Nolan County.  The lake had almost completely dried up after a record setting eight year drought. Another five to six feet of water was added by later rains in the fall of 2007 and winter of 2008.  The lake level rose to about one foot below the spillway in May of 2008 and then began another long decline.

Sep/Oct 2009  Local citizens discovered and reported in September a leaking pipe under the dam at Lake Sweetwater that was estimated by different sources to be releasing anywhere from “thousands of gallons a day” to “a million gallons per week”.  The Sweetwater City Commissioners declared the leak to be an emergency situation on 8 September and a first round of repairs were completed by mid October.  Later the water intake tower was permanently plugged with sand and concrete.  The repairs were done by Enprotec/Hibbs & Todd, Inc., an engineering firm from Abilene, Texas.

25 Jul 2009  Saturday. First running of the df Ranch Triathlon at Lake Sweetwater.  Karly and David Bobo organized the event and intend it to become an annual affair.

4 Nov 2009  Local Option Proposition passed for the legal sale of all alcoholic beverages including mixed beverages in Nolan County.  1,227 voted for the proposition, 467 voted against.  This removed the last remnant of the “2nd Prohibition” that started on 25 April 1942 when Nolan county citizens voted 1,703 to 1363 to ban the sale of all intoxicating beverages.

24/25 Dec 2009  Unusual winter storm deposits 3 to 5 inches of snow at Lake Sweetwater which lingers for 3 days.

27 Dec 2009 Gary Ray Clark, 40, of Trent Texas, drowns in boating accident complicated by cold weather.

24 Jul 2010  Saturday.  Second running of the df Ranch Triathlon at Lake Sweetwater.  Karly and David Bobo organized the event.

5 Jun 2011  Sunday.  Third running of the df Ranch Triathlon at Lake Sweetwater.  Karly and David Bobo organized the event.

2 Jun 2012  Saturday.  Fourth running of the df Ranch Triathlon at Lake Sweetwater.  Karly and David Bobo organized the event.

January 2014 - April 2014  Golden Algae bloom kills most fish in Lake Sweetwater.  The bloom began as the level of the drought stricken lake approached about 24 feet below the spillway.

January 2015 - February 2015  Golden Algae fish kill at Lake Sweetwater.