Wichita Falls, Texas Explained

Official Name:City of Wichita Falls
Settlement Type:City
Nickname:The City that Faith Built
Map Caption1:Map of Wichita Falls in 1890
Subdivision Type:Country
Subdivision Name:United States
Subdivision Type1:State
Subdivision Name1:Texas
Subdivision Type2:County
Subdivision Name2:Wichita
Leader Title:Mayor
Leader Name:Lanham Lyne
Area Magnitude:1 E9
Area Total Sq Mi:70.1
Area Land Sq Mi:70.66
Area Water Sq Mi:0.04
Area Total Km2:183.1
Area Land Km2:183.0
Area Water Km2:0.1
Elevation M:289
Elevation Ft:948
Population As Of:2006
Population Total:97,252
Population Metro:147826
Population Density Sq Mi:1474.1
Population Density Km2:569.1
Utc Offset:-6
Timezone Dst:CDT
Utc Offset Dst:-6
Latitude:33°53'49" N
Longitude:98°30'54" W
Area Code:940
Blank Name:FIPS code
Blank Info:48-79000Web site: States Census Bureau] American FactFinder]. 2008-01-31.
Blank1 Name:GNIS feature ID
Blank1 Info:1376776Web site: Board on Geographic Names. United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25.

Wichita Falls is a city in the state of Texas and the county seat of Wichita County, Texas, United States.[1] Wichita Falls is the principal city of the Wichita Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Archer, Clay and Wichita counties.

Web site: Find a County. 2008-01-31. National Association of Counties. According to the U.S. Census estimate of 2006, the city had a population of 97,252.

Sheppard Air Force Base, a United States Air Force base, is located in Wichita Falls.

Wichita Falls is sister city to Fürstenfeldbruck in Bavaria, Germany.

The city's main newspaper is the Times Record News. The weekly community newspaper is The News Mirror.

Geography and climate

Wichita Falls is located at (33.897047, -98.514881).

Web site: States Census Bureau] US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990]. 2011-04-23. 2011-02-12.

The city is about 15 miles south of the border with Oklahoma, 115 miles northwest of Fort Worth, and 140 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 70.7 square miles (183.1 km²), of which, 70.7 square miles (183.1 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.03%) is water.

Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures
Rec High °F87931001021101171141131111028988
Norm High °F52.
Norm Low °F28.933.441.149.359.367.872.471.363.752.440.131.3
Rec Low °F-5-882436515453382514-7
Precip (in)1.121.582.272.623.923.691.582.393.193.111.681.68
Source: USTravelWeather.com http://www.ustravelweather.com/weather-texas/wichita-falls-weather.asp


As of the census

Web site: States Census Bureau] American FactFinder]. 2008-01-31. of 2000, there were 104,197 people, 37,970 households, and 24,984 families residing in the city. City-data.com reports the population has since declined to 99,354 in July 2006,[2] though the city disputes these numbers.[3] The population density was 1,474.1 people per square mile (569.1/km²). There were 41,916 housing units at an average density of 593.0/sq mi (228.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 75.11% White, 12.40% African American, 0.86% Native American, 2.20% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 6.39% from other races, and 2.95% from two or more races. Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin accounted for 13.98% of the population.

There were 37,970 households out of which 33.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.7% were married couples living together, 12.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.2% were non-families. 28.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.7% under the age of 18, 15.2% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 12.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 106.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 106.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,554, and the median income for a family was $39,911. Males had a median income of $27,609 versus $21,877 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,761. About 10.8% of families and 13.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.7% of those under age 18 and 10.3% of those age 65 or over.

Based on a July 1, 2006 estimate, the metropolitan statistical area has a population of 145,528, a decline of nearly 4% since 2000 (see Table of United States Metropolitan Statistical Areas).

Web site: Find a County. 2008-01-31. National Association of Counties.


The Choctaw Indians settled the area in the early 1700s[4] . White settlers arrived in the 1860s to form cattle ranches. The Fort Worth and Denver Railway arrived in 1882, the same year the city became the county seat of Wichita County, Texas.[4]

A flood in 1886 destroyed the original falls on the Wichita River for which the city was named. After nearly 100 years of visitors wanting to visit the non-existent falls, the city built an artificial waterfall beside the river in Lucy Park. The recreated falls are 54feet high and recirculates at 3,500 gallons per minute. They are visible to south-bound traffic on Interstate 44.

The city is currently seeking funding to rebuild and restore the downtown area.[4] Downtown Wichita Falls was once the city's main shopping area for many years, but lost ground to the creation of new shopping centers throughout the city beginning with Parker Square in 1953 and other similar developments during the 1960s and 1970s, culminating with the opening of Sikes Senter Mall in 1974. The last surviving major downtown retail store, Sears, moved to Sikes Senter in 1990. The former downtown Sears building, constructed in 1967, covered an entire city block and featured "roof top" parking.

Wichita Falls was once home to offices of several oil companies and related industries, along with oil refineries operated by the Continental Oil Company (now ConocoPhillips) until 1952 and Panhandle Oil Company (later American Petrofina) until 1965. Both firms continued to utilize a portion of their former refineries as gasoline/oil terminal facilities for many years.



Wichita Falls is the western terminus for Interstate 44. U.S. Highways leading to or through Wichita Falls include 287, 277, 281, and 82. State Highway 240 ends at Wichita Falls and State Highway 79 runs through it.

Wichita Falls has one of the largest numbers of freeway mileage for a city of its size as a result of a 1954 bond issue approved by city and county voters to purchase right-of-way for several expressway routes through the city and county, the first of which was opened in 1958 as an alignment of U.S. 287 from Eighth Street at Broad and Holliday streets northwestward across the Wichita River and bisecting Lucy and Scotland parks to the Old Iowa Park Road, which was the original U.S. 287 alignment. That was followed by other expressway links including U.S. 82-287 east to Henrietta (completed in 1968), U.S. 281 south toward Jacksboro (completed 1969), U.S. 287 northwest to Iowa Park and Electra (opened 1961), U.S. 277-281 north to Burkburnett and the Red River (opened 1964), and Spur 325 from the U.S. 277-281-287 interchange on the city's north side to the main gate of Sheppard Air Force Base (completed in 1959). However, cross-country traffic for many years had to contend with several ground-level intersections and stop lights over Holliday and Broad streets near the downtown area for approximately 13 blocks between connecting expressway links until a new elevated freeway running overhead was completed in 2001.

Efforts to create an additional freeway along the path of Kell Boulevard for U.S. 82-277 began in 1967 with the acquisition of right-of-way that included a former railroad right-of-way and the first project including construction of the present frontage roads completed in 1977, followed by freeway lanes, overpasses and on/off ramps in 1989 from just east of Brook Avenue west to Kemp Boulevard; and similar projects west from Kemp to Barnett Road in 2001 followed by one now under construction from Barnett Road west past FM 369 to tie in which a project now underway to transform U.S. 277 into a continuous four-lane expressway between Wichita Falls and Abilene.

Air travel

The Wichita Falls Municipal Airport is served by American Eagle with three flights daily to the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The Kickapoo Downtown Airpark and the Wichita Valley Airport serve smaller, private planes.

Van service

Greyhound Lines provides intercity bus service from Wichita Falls to other locations served by Greyhound. Skylark Van Service shuttles passengers to and from DFW on several runs during the day all week long.


Wichita Falls is home to Midwestern State University, an accredited 4-year college offering both bachelor's and master's degrees. A local branch of nearby Vernon College offers two-year degrees, certificate programs, and workforce development programs, and also Wayland Baptist University, whos main branch is located in Plainview, TX.

Public primary and secondary education is covered by the Wichita Falls Independent School District, the City View Independent School District, and the Bright Ideas Charter School. There are several parochial schools, the largest of which is Notre Dame Catholic school. Other private schools operate in the city, as does an active home-school community. Many of the local elementary schools participate in the Head Start program for preschool-aged children. The Wichita Falls ISD is one of only a handful of school districts in Texas that does not require its students to attend a particular school in the district based on their residency. Instead, all schools have magnet programs to attract students, such as the Washington Jackson Math & Science Center.

Four schools in the Wichita Falls Independent School District participate in the International Baccalaureate programmes. Hirschi High School offers the IB Diploma Programme. Three others are candidate schools: G.H. Kirby Junior High School for the Middle Years Programme; and Washington/Jackson Math/Science Center and Lamar Primary Center for the Primary Years Programme.

Other public high schools are Wichita Falls High School and S. H. Rider High School (Wichita Falls ISD) and City View High School (City View ISD).

Sports and recreation

Wichita Falls is the home of the annual Hotter'N Hell Hundred, the largest century bicycle ride in the US.

The city has been home to a number of semi-pro, development, and minor league sports teams, including the Wichita Falls Drillers, a semi-pro football team that has won numerous league titles and a national championship; Wichita Falls Razorbacks, another semi-pro football team; Wichita Falls Texans of the Continental Basketball Association; Wichita Falls Fever in the Lone Star Soccer Alliance (1989-92); the Wichita Falls Spudders baseball team in the Texas League; the Wichita Falls Wildcats (formerly the Wichita Falls Rustlers) of the North American Hockey League, an American "Junior A" Hockey league; and the Wichita Falls Roughnecks (formerly the Graham Roughnecks) of the Texas Collegiate League.

Lucy Park is a 170acres park with a log cabin, duck pond, playground, a frisbee golf course, and picnic areas. It has multiple paved walkways suitable for walking, running, biking, or rollerskating, including a river walk that goes to the Falls. There are also unpaved trails for off-road biking and hiking.

Notable natives

1964 tornado

A devastating tornado hit the north and northwest portions of Wichita Falls along with Sheppard Air Force Base during the afternoon of April 3, 1964. That tornado left 7 dead, more than 100 injured and approximately $15 million in damage approximately 225 homes and businesses. This tornado was also among the first in the nation to be broadcast on live television through warning coverage by KAUZ-TV Channel 6 thanks to efforts by station officials to drag a studio camera outside and point it toward the funnel from outside the station as it was approaching the city's northwest edge. KFDX-TV Channel 3 also provided live tornado warning coverage in which news reporters were out in the field to report on the tornado's movement and later the aftermath utilizing two-way radio communication with news director Fred Brooks and weathercaster Ben Strickland back at the studio. Also, a Wichita Falls Times Record News photographer shot a photo of the funnel as it was approaching Sheppard Air Force Base from the roof of the newspaper's downtown offices.

Another major tornado hit Wichita Falls six years earlier in April 2, 1958. This funnel touched down at Fourth and Lamar streets in the downtown area and stayed on the ground for 16 miles, killing a dairy farmer in Dean, Texas, which is located on State Highway 79 northeast of Wichita Falls.

1979 tornado

See main article: Red River Valley Tornado Outbreak. A large F4 tornado struck the heavily populated southern sections of Wichita Falls in the late afternoon on Tuesday, April 10, 1979 (still known locally as "Terrible Tuesday"). The storm was part of a record outbreak[5] that produced 30 tornadoes around the region. Despite having nearly an hour's advance warning that severe weather was imminent, 45 people were killed (25 in vehicles) and 1,800 were injured just in time for many people to be driving home from work. The tornado left 20,000 people homeless and did $400 million in damage in 1979 dollars, a U.S. record not topped by an individual tornado until the F5 Moore-Oklahoma City tornado of May 3, 1999.[6] A total of 54 people were killed, 52 that Tuesday and two within a week due to injuries.

External links

Notes and References

  1. Web site: Table 1: Population Estimates for the 25 Fastest-Growing U.S. Cities with Populations over 100,000 in 2007: July 1, 2006 to July 1, 2007. 2008-09-22.
  2. Web site: Wichita Falls, Texas Detailed Profile. 2007-12-18.
  3. Web site: City of Wichita Falls, TX - Official Website. 2007-12-20.
  4. http://wichita-falls-texas.com/history/ Wichita Falls History
  5. http://www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/storms/19790410/disaster.php
  6. http://www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/storms/19990503/ NWS Norman, Oklahoma - The Great Plains Tornado Outbreak of May 3-4, 1999