Historical Marker in
Morton County, Kansas

The state flower of Kansas is the sunflower, which is also featured on the state flag and seal.
Morton County, Kansas is located in the southwestern part of the state, and its history dates back to the prehistoric times. The area was initially inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Apaches and Comanches, who relied on the region's vast grasslands and abundant wildlife for sustenance.

In the 19th century, European settlers began to explore and establish settlements in Morton County. The Santa Fe Trail, an important trade route connecting Missouri to New Mexico, passed through the area, bringing increased activity and commerce. Ranching became a prominent industry, with large herds of cattle grazing on the open prairies. The arrival of the railroad in the late 1800s further spurred growth and economic development in the county.

The town of Elkhart, located in Morton County, was officially founded in 1907. It quickly became a thriving community, attracting settlers and businesses. Agriculture played a crucial role in the county's development, with wheat and livestock farming being the mainstays of the local economy. Oil and gas exploration also became significant industries in the early 20th century, further contributing to the growth and prosperity of Morton County.

Despite the challenges posed by the Dust Bowl in the 1930s and the economic downturns in subsequent decades, Morton County has endured. The county has adapted to changing industries and technologies, and today, it continues to be an agricultural hub, known for its wheat production and cattle ranching. The history of Morton County reflects a story of resilience, as the community has overcome hardships and evolved over time to remain a vibrant part of Kansas.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Morton County, Kansas.

  • 1855 - Morton County area is home to Native American tribes including the Comanche and Apache.
  • 1868 - The Medicine Lodge Treaty is signed, forcing Native Americans onto reservations and opening up the area to settlement.
  • 1886 - The county is officially established and named after Oliver Morton, the 14th governor of Indiana.
  • 1917 - The Cimarron Valley Railroad begins operations, boosting the area's economy through transportation of goods.
  • 1930s - Morton County, along with the rest of Kansas, is affected by the Dust Bowl, causing significant agricultural and economic hardship.
  • 1961 - The Santa Fe Trail Museum is established to showcase the area's history and promote tourism.
  • 2000 - The population of Morton County reaches its peak at over 3,700 residents.
  • 2016 - The Dakota Access Pipeline protests take place in Morton County, drawing national attention to local environmental concerns.