Kansas is known as the "Wheat State" and is a major producer of wheat, as well as other crops like corn, soybeans, and sorghum.
Kearny County, located in southwestern Kansas, has a rich history shaped by the pioneer spirit and the development of agriculture in the region. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Pawnee and the Osage. However, with the arrival of European settlers, the landscape of Kearny County began to change.

In 1873, the county was officially established and named after General Stephen Watts Kearny, a prominent figure in the Mexican-American War. The first settlers began to arrive in the late 1870s, seeking opportunities for farming and ranching. The harsh conditions of the region, with its arid climate and lack of water sources, posed significant challenges for these early pioneers.

Despite these hardships, the 1880s brought a wave of development to Kearny County. The introduction of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad in 1887 provided a crucial transportation link for the area, facilitating trade and commerce. This, combined with the Homestead Act, which granted settlers free land, attracted an influx of new residents to the county.

Over time, the primary economic activity in Kearny County shifted from ranching to farming. The discovery of underground water sources, along with the implementation of irrigation systems, greatly increased the agricultural potential of the region. By the early 20th century, farmers in Kearny County were growing a wide range of crops, including corn, wheat, and alfalfa, establishing the county as an agricultural powerhouse in Kansas.

Today, Kearny County continues to thrive agriculturally, with farming and agribusiness as the main drivers of its economy. The county is also home to various attractions, such as the Kearny County Historical Society Museum, which provides visitors with a glimpse into the area's past, and Lake McKinney, a popular spot for outdoor recreation. The history of Kearny County serves as a testament to the resilience and determination of its early settlers, as well as the ongoing importance of agriculture in shaping the community.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Kearny County, Kansas.

  • 1873 - Kearny County is established as a county in Kansas.
  • 1878 - Lakin is founded as the county seat of Kearny County.
  • 1880 - The population of Kearny County is 1,152.
  • 1901 - The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway is extended to Lakin, boosting the town's economy.
  • 1912 - The first Kansas State Fair is held in Lakin, drawing many visitors to the county.
  • 1933 - The Dust Bowl hits Kearny County, causing severe agricultural and economic hardship.
  • 1942 - Kearny County becomes the site of the Camp Walker military base, used for training soldiers during World War II.
  • 1950s - The discovery of natural gas leads to an economic boom in Kearny County.
  • 1973 - The Kearny County Courthouse is added to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • 1990 - The population of Kearny County reaches its peak at 4,282.
  • 2008 - The Kearny County Hospital opens, providing improved healthcare services to the community.