Alva’s name honors Alva B. Adams, pioneer attorney for the Santa Fe Railroad whose main line serves Alva.
A World War II POW Camp was located south of Alva in the 1940s. More than 5,000 prisoners were interned at a time when the population of Alva itself was only 3,500. Items retained from the camp are on display in the Cherokee Strip Museum including a remarkable sculpture of an eagle that was hand carved by German Prisoners of War while at the camp. In nearby Waynoka, in the southern part of Woods County, German POWs were also interned in a church basement. In the 1980s a cache of paintings was discovered in the walls of the church. The paintings now hang in the Congregational Church Museum. Alva, with a population of approximately 5,288, is the county seat of Woods County and prosperous home to Northwestern Oklahoma State University. Situated in the center of a “tourism triangle,” Alva is approximately 30 miles from each of three outstanding attractions: the Great Salt Plains, Alabaster Caverns State Park and Little Sahara State Park. Alva is known for its great hunting, fishing and a good farming economy.