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Chanute, Kansas
Aerial view of Chanute (2013)
Aerial view of Chanute (2013)
Location within Neosho County and Kansas
Location within Neosho County and Kansas
KDOT map of Neosho County (legend)
Country United States
State Kansas
County Neosho
Founded 1873
Incorporated 1873
Named for Octave Chanute
 • Total 7.22 sq mi (18.70 km2)
 • Land 7.10 sq mi (18.38 km2)
 • Water 0.12 sq mi (0.32 km2)
958 ft (292 m)
 • Total 8,722
 • Density 1,208.0/sq mi (466.42/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code 620
FIPS code 20-12500
GNIS ID 484936

Chanute is a city in Neosho County, Kansas, United States. Founded on January 1, 1873, it was named after railroad engineer and aviation pioneer Octave Chanute. As of the 2020 census, the population of the city was 8,722. Chanute is home of Neosho County Community College.


Oilfield near Chanute (1908)

In 1870 when the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Rail Road (later the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, now the BNSF Railway) crossed the Missouri, Kansas and Texas line within the limits of Neosho county four rival towns sprang up, in the vicinity of the junction: New Chicago, Chicago Junction, Alliance, and Tioga. Two years of the most bitter animosity ensued until the four were consolidated in 1872, and the name of Chanute given it in honor of Octave Chanute, a railroad civil engineer.

Though Chanute was not founded until 1873, settlers had begun populating the area as early as 1856. With the LL&G Railroad set to arrive shortly thereafter, the early residents of the towns of Tioga, Chicago Junction, Alliance, and New Chicago needed an innovative solution to an escalating dispute over which town would claim the right to house the LL&G Railroad's new land office. The towns were unable to settle their differences until an individual by the name of Octave Chanute came to town. Octave was the Chief Engineer and General Superintendent of the LL&G Railroad. In 1872, he suggested the towns merge to end the bickering. On January 1, 1873 the towns merged and became chartered as the City of Chanute.

With the Southern Kansas Railroad locating a division headquarters in Chanute, the city began to flourish. In 1887, Chanute boasted a rapid growth in flourmills, grain elevators, banks, drug and hardware stores, and natural gas. In 1903, the City of Chanute established the electric utility, and in the years to follow, established the gas, water, wastewater,refuse utilities. Ash Grove Cement Company, the sixth largest cement manufacturer in North America, and the largest US-owned cement company, commenced cement manufacture in 1908 in Chanute. In September 2011 Spirit AeroSystems announced the expansion of an assembly facility which will grow to 150 employees in five years and boost the local economy. Chanute is one of only a handful of remaining full-service cities in the State of Kansas.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.15 square miles (18.52 km2), of which, 7.03 square miles (18.21 km2) is land and 0.12 square miles (0.31 km2) is water.


Climate data for KCNU
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 75
Average high °F (°C) 40.5
Average low °F (°C) 21.0
Record low °F (°C) −23
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.28
Source: National Weather Service


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 887
1890 2,826 218.6%
1900 4,208 48.9%
1910 9,272 120.3%
1920 10,286 10.9%
1930 10,277 −0.1%
1940 10,142 −1.3%
1950 10,109 −0.3%
1960 10,849 7.3%
1970 10,341 −4.7%
1980 10,506 1.6%
1990 9,488 −9.7%
2000 9,411 −0.8%
2010 9,119 −3.1%
2020 8,722 −4.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 9,119 people, 3,720 households, and 2,322 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,297.2 inhabitants per square mile (500.9/km2). There were 4,178 housing units at an average density of 594.3 per square mile (229.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 92.4% White, 1.9% African American, 1.2% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.4% from other races, and 2.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.4% of the population.

There were 3,720 households, of which 32.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.1% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 37.6% were non-families. 33.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.93.

The median age in the city was 37.2 years. 25.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23% were from 25 to 44; 24.5% were from 45 to 64; and 16.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.0% male and 52.0% female.

Area attractions

The Chanute area has many tourist attractions known for their historical significance.

Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum

The Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum offers award-winning exhibits and programs that highlight the achievements of Martin and Osa Johnson, pioneering documentary filmmakers, photographers, authors, explorers, and Kansans. A trip to the museum allows one to relive the Johnsons' 1917–1936 adventures in Africa, Borneo and the South Seas. Additional exhibits feature the rich cultures and art of Africa.

Tioga Suites Hotel

The Tioga Suites Hotel was built in 1929 as Kansas' first "fireproof" hotel. All exterior and interior walls, floors and ceilings are masonry or concrete. This Art Deco building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been completely remodeled and modernized. Known as the "Jewel of Southeast Kansas" it is the hub of many of the community and area activities. It is located in the heart of downtown Chanute.

Chanute Art Gallery

The Chanute Art Gallery includes more than 1,500 square feet of exhibit area and houses a Permanent Core Collection of more than 500 works of art that includes 25 mediums, representing 135 artists. Special exhibits change every month. Collections include: The Luigi Kasimir Etchings, European and Oriental Art, The Kansas Prairie Printmakers and local and area artists.

Chanute Historical Museum

The Chanute Historical Museum is commonly known as the Flat Iron Building, this unusual structure is now home to a museum featuring Chanute artifacts. It houses a large genealogy collection and various artifacts from Chanute's colorful history, including an extensive collection of MKT Railroad memorabilia. Members of the Chanute Historical Society opened the museum in June 2005. The collection on display contains sports, railroad and aviation memorabilia.

Downtown & Historic Homes

Both the downtown and historic home districts offer a variety of architectural styles and beautiful examples of restoration. The historic home driving tour takes you down broad, tree-lined streets that make you feel you have stepped back into another era. Chanute's wonderful downtown is filled with historic buildings, most of which have been restored to their original beauty. Chanute also has several examples of WPA projects.

Cardinal Drug Store

The Cardinal Drug Store in downtown Chanute is the home of one of the oldest original soda fountains in Kansas. It has a collection of Coke memorabilia and medicine bottles. Cardinal is located at 103 East Main Street.

Austin Bridge

The King Bridge Company constructed the Austin Bridge in 1872. The 160-foot bowstring arch design spanned the Neosho River east of what is now Chanute. Local pioneers invested $15,000 in the bridge for their economic future of getting livestock and crops to the railhead. In 1910 the bridge was moved downstream to the community of Austin. In 1972 it was closed to vehicular traffic, remaining open to foot traffic. On September 15, 1977 the bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In August 1999 the bridge was moved into Santa Fe Park to become the southern terminus of a 3.11 mile hike/bike path. A Federal grant, Neosho County and the City of Chanute funded the project.

Summit Hill Gardens

Summit Hill Gardens was the first school in Neosho County. Summit Hill was restored and a historic home and modern structure were added to the family residence. It has a flower and herb garden. It is located at 2605 160th Road.

Chanute–Wright Brothers Memorial

Located in the heart of downtown, this sculpture was dedicated as a gift to the community in September 2003 by the Chanute High School Class of 1941. The sculpture honors engineer and city namesake, Octave Chanute, and the Wright Brothers. Chanute was a mentor to Wilbur and Orville Wright and very influential in the early days of flight exploration. The sculpture measures 23 feet from wingtip to wingtip and 20 feet from nose to tail. The project was in partnership with the City of Chanute.



Major highways running through Chanute are north–south route US-169 and east–west route K-39 (East-West). Chanute is also within 10 miles of two other major north–south highways: US-75 and US-59. These highways provide easy access to I-70 and I-35, the two Interstate highways passing through Kansas, as well as east–west highway US-400.


Bus service is provided northward towards Kansas City, Missouri and southward towards Tulsa, Oklahoma by Jefferson Lines (subcontractor of Greyhound Lines).


The South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad (SKO) serves Chanute, as well as Southern and Eastern Kansas and Northern Oklahoma. The SKO connects to several major railroads allowing local businesses the opportunity to bid and negotiate their rail transportation costs to acquire the best possible price to all locations throughout North America.


Chanute Martin Johnson Airport (FAA Identifier: CNU) is a general aviation airport with a 4,255-foot runway and taxiway. Expansion of services and infrastructure is in the planning stages, including new T-hangars and pavement improvements.



Aerial photo of Chanute High School, Chanute Kansas 09-04-2013
Aerial view of Chanute High School


Chanute's only college is the Neosho County Community College known locally as NCCC, or sometimes as NC3. Neosho County Community College is a public, two-year institution, that currently provides post-secondary education for just under 3,200 students.

Primary and secondary

The community is served by Chanute USD 413 public school district, which includes one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school. Chanute Elementary School is the city's elementary school, Royster Middle School is the city's middle school, and Chanute High School is the city's high school. Chanute's public school system also includes Chanute High School-affiliated New Beginnings Academy, a program for students lacking credits to graduate and designed for individuals who have dropped out or are in danger of dropping out of high school. High school credits for New Beginnings Academy are provided by Chanute High School.

In 1961 Chanute had at least 3 elementary schools, Alcot, Murray Hill and James B Hutton. Alcot was located in the northwest section of Chanute in the vicinity of Highland Park. Murray Hill was located on 3rd Street bounded on the East by Garfield Avenue. It is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places also is a senior living home. The front of James B. Hutton was located on Ashby Avenue on the west side and Katy Avenue on the east side between 6th and 7th Streets. It is currently used as a religious center noted by web maps.

Chanute is home to two private schools: Saint Patrick Catholic School and Chanute Christian Academy. Saint Patrick Catholic School provides schooling for students from pre-school (ages three to four) through the sixth grade while Chanute Christian Academy (CCA) provides schooling for students from kindergarten through the twelfth grade. The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) recognizes Saint Patrick Catholic School as an accredited, non-public school. Chanute Christian Academy is not listed as an accredited school on the KSDE website.

Notable people

  • Eden Ahbez (1908–1995), songwriter and mystic, lived in Chanute in his youth as George McGrew
  • Jimmy Allen, former lead guitarist for Puddle of Mudd
  • Gilbert Baker, LGBT activist, created the rainbow flag
  • Edith Bideau, singer and music educator
  • Edwin Bideau, lawyer and politician
  • Osa Johnson, adventurer, author, and documentary filmmaker
  • Jennifer Knapp, Christian singer-songwriter
  • Paul Lindblad, MLB player
  • Ralph Miller, basketball coach, Hall of Fame
  • Grace Olive Wiley, herpetologist
  • Kustom Amplification, had a factory in Chanute. Kustom" was a brand of Ross Inc, a company founded in 1964 by Bud Ross in Chanute.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Chanute (Kansas) para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Famous Hispanic artists
Alma López
Juana Martinez-Neal
William Villalongo
Teresita Fernández
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