Wichita Falls (wĭchˈĭtô) [key], city (1990 pop. 96,259), seat of Wichita co., N Tex., on the Wichita River; inc. 1889. The city's name comes from the Wichitas and from the falls that have since been reduced to an area of rapidly flowing water in the Wichita River. The area was probably settled in the 1870s, but the town did not grow until the coming of the railroad in 1882. Formerly a shipping point for wheat and cattle from nearby ranches, the city achieved tremendous prosperity with the oil booms (1919, 1937) in the vicinity. The headquarters of numerous oil companies are in Wichita Falls, and oil-field machinery is a leading manufacture. Transportation equipment; machinery; electronic and electrical equipment; wood, metal, plastic, rubber, and foam products; and consumer goods are also manufactured there. Agriculture and ranching are still important to the city's economy. Wichita Falls is the seat of Midwestern State Univ. Nearby is Sheppard Air Force Base.
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