The famous Dodge City of the Wild West was located in Kansas and was known for its saloons, cowboys, and outlaws.
Riley County, Kansas, located in the northeastern part of the state, has a rich history that spans back thousands of years. The land was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Kansa, Pawnee, and Osage people, who relied on the Flint Hills' natural resources for their livelihoods. European settlement began in the early 1800s when traders and explorers ventured into the region.

In 1853, the United States government created Riley County as part of the Kansas Territory. The county was named after General Bennett Riley, who served as a military governor in the area during the Mexican-American War. The discovery of limestone in the Flint Hills drove early industry and attracted settlers to the region.

Riley County played a pivotal role during the American Civil War. The county was divided between those supporting the Confederacy and those supporting the Union, leading to conflict and tensions between neighbors. Several military engagements took place in the area, including the Battle of Middle Creek and the Burning of the Courthouse in Manhattan.

As the 20th century dawned, Riley County experienced growth and development. Manhattan, the county seat and largest city, became home to Kansas State Agricultural College (now Kansas State University) in 1863, which stimulated growth and helped shape the county's future as an education and research center. Today, Riley County is a vibrant community known for its strong agricultural heritage, education institutions, and military ties, with Fort Riley, one of the largest military bases in the United States, located in the county.

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

  • 1855: Riley County established as one of the original 33 counties in the Kansas Territory
  • 1857: Manhattan, the county seat, officially incorporated
  • 1858: Kansas State Agricultural College, now known as Kansas State University, is founded in Manhattan
  • 1861-1865: Riley County residents actively participate in the American Civil War
  • 1864: "Wild Bill" Hickok, notorious Wild West lawman, becomes a constable in Riley County
  • 1922: The famous Claflin Drug Store shooting, involving prohibition agents, takes place in Manhattan
  • 1930s: Riley County, like the rest of the United States, is deeply affected by the Great Depression
  • 1951: Fort Riley, a major U.S. Army installation, is reactivated after World War II
  • 1986: Tuttle Creek Dam is completed, creating Tuttle Creek Lake and offering recreational opportunities in the county