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Riley County, Kansas


Riley County, Kansas

Riley County, Kansas
Riley County Courthouse in Manhattan
Map of Kansas highlighting Riley County
Location in the state of Kansas
Map of the United States highlighting Kansas
Kansas's location in the U.S.
Founded August 25, 1855
Seat Manhattan
Largest city Manhattan
 • Total 622 sq mi (1,611 km2)
 • Land 610 sq mi (1,580 km2)
 • Water 12 sq mi (31 km2), 2.0%
 • (2010) 71,115
 • Density 117/sq mi (45/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Website .govrileycountyks

Riley County (standard abbreviation: RL) is a county located in the U.S. state of Kansas. As of the 2010 census, the population was 71,115.[1] The largest city and county seat is Manhattan.[2]

Riley County is part of the Manhattan, KS Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Riley County is home to two of Kansas' largest employers: Fort Riley and Kansas State University. Among notable current and former residents of Riley County are former Governor John W. Carlin, General Glen Edgerton and millionaire miner Horace A. W. Tabor.


  • History 1
  • Law and government 2
  • Geography 3
    • Adjacent counties 3.1
  • Demographics 4
    • 2000 census 4.1
  • Education 5
    • Colleges and universities 5.1
    • Unified school districts 5.2
  • Communities 6
    • Cities 6.1
    • Unincorporated communities 6.2
    • Ghost towns 6.3
    • Fort Riley 6.4
    • Townships 6.5
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10


Riley County, named for Geary County and all land west of Riley County, across Kansas Territory into present-day Colorado.[3]

The first Territorial Capital of Kansas Territory was located in the boundaries of Riley County, in the former town of Pawnee. The site now falls within the boundaries of Fort Riley, a U.S. Army post.

Manhattan was selected as county seat in contentious fashion. In late 1857, an election was held to select the county seat, with Ogden prevailing. However, Manhattanites suspected election fraud, and were eventually able to prove that a number of votes were illegally cast.[3] Sheriff David A. Butterfield was forced to secure the county's books and records for Manhattan, and Manhattan was finally officially declared the county seat in 1858.[3][4]

On May 30, 1879, the "Irving, Kansas Tornado" began in Riley County. This tornado is estimated to have been an F4 on the Fujita scale, with a damage path 800 yards (700 m) wide and 100 miles (200 km) long. Eighteen people were killed and sixty were injured.[5]

Law and government

Riley County was a prohibition, or "dry", county until the Kansas Constitution was amended in 1986 and voters approved the sale of alcoholic liquor by the individual drink with a 30% food sales requirement. The food sales requirement was removed with voter approval in 2004.[6]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 622 square miles (1,610 km2), of which 610 square miles (1,600 km2) is land and 12 square miles (31 km2) (2.0%) is water.[7]

The eastern border of the county follows the former course of the Big Blue River. The river was dammed in the 1960s and Tuttle Creek Lake was created as a result. The county falls within the Flint Hills region of the state.

Adjacent counties


Age pyramid

2000 census

As of the census[13] of 2000, there were 62,843 people, 22,137 households, and 12,263 families residing in the county. The population density was 103 people per square mile (40/km²). There were 23,397 housing units at an average density of 38 per square mile (15/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 84.78% White, 6.88% Black or African American, 0.63% Native American, 3.22% Asian, 0.17% Pacific Islander, 1.89% from other races, and 2.43% from two or more races. 4.57% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 22,137 households out of which 27.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.20% were married couples living together, 6.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.60% were non-families. 27.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the county the population was spread out with 18.80% under the age of 18, 34.50% from 18 to 24, 25.90% from 25 to 44, 13.30% from 45 to 64, and 7.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 24 years. For every 100 females there were 114.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 115.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $32,042, and the median income for a family was $46,489. Males had a median income of $26,856 versus $23,835 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,349. About 8.50% of families and 20.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.20% of those under age 18 and 6.70% of those age 65 or over.


Colleges and universities

Unified school districts


2005 KDOT Map of Riley County (map legend)


Unincorporated communities

Ghost towns

  • Lasita
  • Walsburg
  • May Day

These former places were flooded when Tuttle Creek Lake was created in the 1950s and 1960s. Randolph was also flooded, but moved a mile west of its original location.

  • Cleburn
  • Garrison Cross
  • Stockdale
  • Winkler[14]

Fort Riley

Located north of the junction of the Smoky Hill and Republican rivers in Geary County, Fort Riley Military Reservation covers 100,656 acres (407 km2) in Geary and Riley counties. The fort has a daytime population of nearly 25,000 and includes two census-designated places:


Riley County Township map (1887)

Riley County is divided into fourteen townships. The city of Manhattan is considered governmentally independent and is excluded from the census figures for the townships. In the following table, the population center is the largest city (or cities) included in that township's population total, if it is of a significant size.

See also


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 16, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ a b c Olson, Kevin (2012). Frontier Manhattan. University Press of Kansas. pp. 54, 107–108.  
  4. ^ Riley County Official Website - History
  5. ^ Joe Furr, "Historical Tornadoes"
  6. ^ "Map of Wet and Dry Counties". Alcoholic Beverage Control, Kansas Department of Revenue. November 2006. Retrieved 2007-12-28. 
  7. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  8. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  9. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  13. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  14. ^ Blackmar, Frank Wilson (1912). Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Volume 2. Standard Publishing Company. p. 926. 

Further reading

  • History of the State of Kansas; William G. Cutler; A.T. Andreas Publisher; 1883. (Online HTML eBook)
  • Kansas : A Cyclopedia of State History, Embracing Events, Institutions, Industries, Counties, Cities, Towns, Prominent Persons, Etc; 3 Volumes; Frank W. Blackmar; Standard Publishing Co; 944 / 955 / 824 pages; 1912. (Volume1 - Download 54MB PDF eBook), (Volume2 - Download 53MB PDF eBook), (Volume3 - Download 33MB PDF eBook)

External links

Official websites
  • Riley County
General county information
  • Blue Skyways
Local History and Genealogy
  • List of 150 Notable Residents of Riley County
  • The Irving, KS Tornado
  • Cutler's History of Riley County, Kansas
  • Riley County GenWeb
  • Riley County Kansas AHGP
County Level Data
  • Kansas Statistical Abstract
  • Riley County Maps: Current, Historic, KDOT
  • Kansas Highway Maps: Current, Historic, KDOT
  • Kansas Railroad Maps: Current, 1996, 1915, KDOT and Kansas Historical Society
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