The town of Sweetwater, Missouri is known for its mineral resources, particularly rich lead sulfide (galena) deposits. I am curious to find the origin of the name "Sweetwater" and if it has any connection with lead compounds that at one time or another leached into the local water resources (I believe lead acetate tastes sweet). In any event, I can't seem to find any history or such a connection through internet research.

  • $\begingroup$ Can you be more specific about where this town is? Is it in Newington County, MO? $\endgroup$
    – DavePhD
    Dec 9 '14 at 14:57
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    $\begingroup$ 'Sweetwater' is a pretty common name west of the Mississippi, seemingly used to lure the unsuspecting to some god-forsaken part of the desert where a trickle of water ran... I'm not sure a connection to lead poisoning is warranted in all cases. Often 'Sweetwater' is in comparison to horribly hard water (lots of calcite) encountered in much of the plains area. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Dec 9 '14 at 14:59

According to The State Historical Society of Missouri:

Sweetwater is the name of a little trading-point established on Sweetwater Branch just after the Civil War. It was named for the branch.


Sweetwater Branch was named by the pioneers for the unusually good water in the stream.

The place (and branch) are both in Newton County, Missouri. The same reference linked above indicates that what was once called Sweetwater is now referred to as Boulder City (because of the boulders nearby).

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer. "unusually good water" seems to support that perhaps at one time there may have been natural contamination of the water by lead. That's if one believes "good" might imply sweet. $\endgroup$
    – docscience
    Jul 30 '15 at 14:44
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    $\begingroup$ For me "good" implies clear, clean and fresh. The german word for fresh water is Süßwasser, which is translated word by word to "sweet water". I guess that this is due to the big difference to saline water and not a possible sweet taste of lead salts ... $\endgroup$ Jul 30 '15 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ @PH13 Thanks - so now I'm wondering about the dates/hertitage of the 'pioneers' that Todd Minehardt is referencing. I wonder if they were of German heritage. That could connect your note with his answer, and a possible explanation of the name. $\endgroup$
    – docscience
    Jul 31 '15 at 17:39

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