Nowata (Lenape: Nuwatu, Nuwi ta [3]) is a city and county seat of Nowata County, Oklahoma, United States.[4] The population was 3,731 at the United States Census, 2010, a 6.0 percent decline from 3,971 at the 2000 census.[5] The area where it was established was then part of the Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory.

Nowata, Oklahoma

Nuwatu, Nuwi ta
Mural in Nowata
Mural in Nowata
Location of Nowata within Oklahoma
Location of Nowata within Oklahoma
Coordinates: 36°41′43″N 95°38′15″W / 36.69528°N 95.63750°W / 36.69528; -95.63750Coordinates: 36°41′43″N 95°38′15″W / 36.69528°N 95.63750°W / 36.69528; -95.63750
CountryUnited States
 • Total3.1 sq mi (8.0 km2)
 • Land3.1 sq mi (8.0 km2)
 • Water0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
709 ft (216 m)
 • Total3,731
 • Density1,200/sq mi (470/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)539/918
FIPS code40-52900 [1]
GNIS feature ID1096069 [2]


The first community established at this site was named Metz, named for its first postmaster, Fred Metzner. The name was changed even before the railroad was built in 1889.[6] Nowata served as a train stop for Native Americans from the East being resettled by the government. Some controversy exists about the meaning of the town name. The Lenape tribesmen who passed through named it "nuwita," meaning "friendly" or "welcome."[7] In the Cherokee language, the town is called ᎠᎹᏗᎧᏂᎬᎬ (A-ma-di-ka-ni-gunh-gunh, roughly), which means, "water is all gone," translating what it sounded like the word meant: No Water.[8]

In 1889, the Kansas and Arkansas Valley Railway (later part of the Missouri Pacific Railway) built a line through Nowata. A post office was established in the town on November 8, 1889. Nowata was incorporated April 17, 1899. By 1900, Nowata had 498 residents.[7]

Oil and gas were discovered nearby in 1904, stimulating the Nowata economy. The find established Nowata as "...a region (having) a reputation for being the world's largest shallow oil field." Some wells in this field have continued to produce into the twenty-first century.[7]

A Federal court was established in 1904, and met on the third floor of the new building owned by the First National Bank of Nowata. The building housing the court burned down in 1909, destroying all records and forcing the court to move temporarily to another building. When Oklahoma became a state on November 16, 1907, Nowata County was created and named for the city, which was designated as the county seat. By that time, the city population had climbed to 2,233. A permanent Nowata County Courthouse was completed in 1912, and remains in use at present. It is the only local property listed on the National Record of Historic Places.[7]

Nowata's peak population was 4,435 in 1920. The city became the southern terminus of the Union Electric Railway, which continued to serve the city until 1948. Newspapers included the Nowata Herald and the Nowata Advertiser.. The town had 850 telephones by 1930. However, the 1930 census showed the first population decline in the city's history, to nearly the 1910 level.


Nowata is located at 36°41′43″N 95°38′15″W / 36.69528°N 95.63750°W / 36.69528; -95.63750 (36.695409, -95.637546).[9] It is 51 miles (82 km) north of Tulsa and 21 miles (34 km) south of the Kansas state line.[7] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.1 square miles (8.0 km2), all land.


Nowata is the home of the coldest temperature ever recorded in the state of Oklahoma. A thermometer at an Oklahoma Mesonet site in Nowata recorded a low temperature of -31 °F on the morning of February 10, 2011.[10] A week later, the high temperature was 79 °F, 110 degrees higher.[11]


Census Pop.

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 3,971 people, 1,622 households, and 1,026 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,280.5 people per square mile (494.6/km²). There were 1,853 housing units at an average density of 597.5 per square mile (230.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 70.08% White, 4.66% African American, 16.02% Native American, 0.13% Asian, 0.38% from other races, and 8.74% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.18% of the population.

There were 1,622 households out of which 28.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.5% were married couples living together, 13.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.7% were non-families. 33.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.2% 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 2.96.

In the city, the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 22.9% from 25 to 44, 21.6% from 45 to 64, and 21.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $23,835, and the median income for a family was $31,836. Males had a median income of $26,556 versus $18,989 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,633. About 11.6% of families and 19.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.0% of those under age 18 and 11.5% of those age 65 or over.

Transportation in NowataEdit

Nowata is served by two (2) federal United States highways, one airport, and one Class 1 railroad

US-169 is the main north-south federal United States highway for both the city of Nowata and Nowata County Oklahoma. The highway has its concurrency entirely on Ash Street from just north of the Nowata Municipal Airport from nearby Lenapah Oklahoma, to where it exits the city to the south over the Union Pacific viaduct east of Memorial Park Cemetery. The highway will continue south toward the city of Tulsa Oklahoma. The highway will intersect US-60 at the stoplight on Cherokee Avenue and Ash Street.

US-60 is the main east-west federal United States highway for both Nowata and Nowata County Oklahoma. US-60 will have its concurrency with Vinita Road on the east side of the city of Nowata. The highway will turn to the northwest at the intersection of Vinita Road/Gerlach Street/East Fairview Avenue, then turn west on Cherokee Avenue at South Hill Street. The highway will remain on Cherokee Avenue, cross US-169 at Ash Street to Pine Street where it will turn to the north. The highway will have its concurrency north on Pine Street for one city block to West Delaware. The highway will then have its concurrency with West Delaware Avenue where it will continue west for one city block then turn north on North Pecan Street. The highway will then have its concurrency with North Pecan Street for one city block where it will turn west onto W. Davis Drive. The highway will then have its concurrency with West Davis Drive, then turn northwest at Mississippi Street, and continue on West Davis Drive, then exit the city northwest of Turner Lane, and continue west toward the city of Bartlesville Oklahoma.

Nowata Municipal Airport

Nowata Municipal Airport is located on the north side of the city on US-169. Runway 17/35 dimensions and surface are 2,500'X45' asphalt paved runway. Runway 5/23 dimensions and surface are 2,500X45' and is a grass runway. Nowata Municipal Airport is owned by the City of Nowata Oklahoma.


Nowata Oklahoma is served by Union Pacific Railroad. The Wagoner Subdivision begins to the north in the nearby city of Coffeyville Kansas and runs roughly parallel with US-169 through Nowata County. The subdivision runs through the towns of South Coffeyville, Lenapah, Delaware, Nowata, and Watova. The Union Pacific Wagoner Subdivision and the Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Cherokee Subdivision has its diamond in the nearby city of Claremore Oklahoma. The south end of the Wagoner Subdivision is located in the city of Van Buren Arkansas.


The city has a council-manager form of government.[7]


At the beginning of the 21st Century, Nowata had 130 different businesses. The most notable was the forty-bed Jane Phillips Nowata Health Center. The weekly Nowata Star newspaper kept readers informed about local events and issues.[7]


Nowata was the setting for the 1998 movie Possums (film). In the movie, a man played by Mac Davis tries to bring back the town's cancelled high school football program. Scenes were filmed in town and guest starred Barry Switzer and many locals.

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  3. ^ "Lenape Talking Dictionary". Retrieved 2012-05-27.
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  5. ^ "MuniNet Guide: Nowata, Oklahoma". Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  6. ^ Cheatham, Glen. "Nowata County." Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Accessed July 25, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Bamberg, Maxine. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. "Nowata" Retrieved September 30, 2011.[1]
  8. ^ Holmes, Ruth Bradley and Smith, Betty Sharp. Beginning Cherokee, 2nd Edition. University of Oklahoma Press, 1977.
  9. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  10. ^ "Record low temperatures in Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas". Reuters. February 10, 2011.
  11. ^

External linksEdit