National Register Listings in
Decatur County, Kansas

Amelia Earhart, the famous aviator, was born in Atchison, Kansas in 1897.
Decatur County, Kansas, has a rich history that dates back to the arrival of Native American tribes in the area. The region was home to various tribes, including the Kansa, Pawnee, and Cheyenne people, who used the land for hunting and gathering. European settlement began in the mid-1800s when pioneers began to move into the area in search of fertile land and opportunities.

Decatur County was officially established on March 20, 1873, and named after Commodore Stephen Decatur, a naval officer renowned for his service in the War of 1812. The county's first settlers faced many challenges, including harsh weather conditions and conflicts with Native American tribes. However, as more settlers arrived, the community grew, and agriculture became the dominant industry, with crops such as wheat, corn, and sorghum being cultivated.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the arrival of the railroad brought further growth and development to Decatur County. The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad established a line through the county, providing a vital transportation link for both goods and people. This led to increased trade and opportunities for farmers and businesses in the area.

Over the years, Decatur County has experienced ups and downs as part of the larger economic trends impacting rural communities. The county has remained primarily rural and agriculturally focused, with farming and ranching continuing to play a crucial role in its economy. Today, Decatur County is known for its beautiful prairies, historic sites, and close-knit community, preserving its heritage while embracing modern challenges and opportunities.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Decatur County, Kansas.

  • 1873 - Decatur County is officially established.
  • 1877 - The first post office is established in Decatur City.
  • 1888 - The Kansas State Reform School, now known as the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex, is established in Decatur County.
  • 1901 - The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad reaches Oberlin, the county seat.
  • 1904 - The first county fair is held in Oberlin.
  • 1922 - The Red Barn Studio Museum is built in Red Barn Park in Decatur County.
  • 1957 - The Pony Express Station and Museum opens in Oberlin to commemorate the historic mail delivery route.
  • 1986 - The Prairie Dog State Park is established near Norton, partly within Decatur County.
  • 1990 - The population of Decatur County reaches its highest level at over 4,000 residents.
  • 2011 - The Rawlins County-Atwood-Decatur County Historic Preservation Alliance is formed to promote and preserve local history.