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Cottonwood Falls, Kansas facts for kids

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Cottonwood Falls, Kansas
Chase County Courthouse designed by Kansas State Capitol architect John G. Haskell
Chase County Courthouse designed by Kansas State Capitol architect John G. Haskell
Location within Chase County and Kansas
Location within Chase County and Kansas
KDOT map of Chase County (legend)
Country United States
State Kansas
County Chase
Township Falls
Founded 1859
Incorporated 1872
Named for Falls on Cottonwood River
 • Type Mayor–Council
 • Total 0.64 sq mi (1.65 km2)
 • Land 0.63 sq mi (1.63 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.01 km2)
1,207 ft (368 m)
 • Total 851
 • Density 1,330/sq mi (515.8/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code 620
FIPS code 20-15900
GNIS ID 477262

Cottonwood Falls is the largest city and county seat of Chase County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2020 census, the population of the city was 851. It is located south of Strong City along the south side of the Cottonwood River.


Cottonwood falls overlook 2009
Looking northward toward the business district, as seen from Courthouse steps (2009)

Early history

For many millennia, the Great Plains of North America was inhabited by nomadic Native Americans. From the 16th century to 18th century, the Kingdom of France claimed ownership of large parts of North America. In 1762, after the French and Indian War, France secretly ceded New France to Spain, per the Treaty of Fontainebleau.

19th century

Map elk chase kansas
1893 Railroad Map

In 1802, Spain returned most of the land to France. In 1803, most of the land for modern day Kansas was acquired by the United States from France as part of the 828,000 square mile Louisiana Purchase for 2.83 cents per acre.

In 1854, the Kansas Territory was organized, then in 1861 Kansas became the 34th U.S. state. In 1859, Chase County was established within the Kansas Territory, which included the land for modern day Cottonwood Falls.

The first settlement in the area of Cottonwood Falls was in 1854, when an Indian trader named Seth Hayes founded a cattle ranch on the Cottonwood River close to the mouth of Diamond Spring Creek. The area around the town was organized as Chase County in 1859, and Cottonwood Falls was designated the temporary county seat. Other early settlers arrived in Cottonwood and surrounding lands in 1856 to 1858.

The first post office in Cottonwood Falls was established in 1858. In 1873 the city's French Renaissance style Chase County courthouse was built; at roughly the same time, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway reached Cottonwood Falls area. Through the late 19th and early 20th centuries the area around the city was mainly divided into farms and cattle ranches.

20th century

In 1931, Transcontinental & Western Air Flight 599 crashed ten miles south of Cottonwood Falls near the community of Bazaar, killing all eight on board, including Notre Dame University football coach Knute Rockne. A monument to the crash is located on private property.

There have been numerous floods during the history of Cottonwood Falls. In June and July 1951, due to heavy rains, rivers and streams flooded numerous cities in Kansas, including Cottonwood Falls. Many reservoirs and levees were built in Kansas as part of a response to the Great Flood of 1951.


Cottonwood River Bridge
1914 bridge over Cottonwood River in Cottonwood Falls (2012)

Cottonwood Falls is located at 38°22′5″N 96°32′35″W / 38.36806°N 96.54306°W / 38.36806; -96.54306 (38.368159, -96.542918), in the scenic Flint Hills of the Great Plains. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.60 square miles (1.55 km2), of which 0.59 square miles (1.53 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2) is water.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Cottonwood Falls has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.

Area events

Area attractions

Cottonwood Falls has five listings on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

  • Cartter Building (NRHP).
  • Chase County Courthouse (NRHP). It is the oldest courthouse in continual use in the state of Kansas and one of the oldest in continual use West of the Mississippi.
  • Chase County National Bank (NRHP).
  • Cottonwood River Bridge (NRHP).
  • Samuel N Wood House (NRHP).
  • Kansas Historical Marker - A Landmark Of Distinction, located in courthouse square.
  • Chase Lake Falls


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 518
1890 770 48.6%
1900 842 9.4%
1910 899 6.8%
1920 1,044 16.1%
1930 963 −7.8%
1940 1,078 11.9%
1950 957 −11.2%
1960 971 1.5%
1970 987 1.6%
1980 954 −3.3%
1990 889 −6.8%
2000 966 8.7%
2010 903 −6.5%
2020 851 −5.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

Cottonwood Falls is part of the Emporia Micropolitan Statistical Area.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 903 people, 342 households, and 205 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,530.5 inhabitants per square mile (590.9/km2). There were 414 housing units at an average density of 701.7 per square mile (270.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.9% White, 3.4% African American, 0.2% Asian, 1.1% from other races, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.0% of the population.

There were 342 households, of which 28.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.8% were married couples living together, 9.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.1% were non-families. 37.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 21.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.92.

The median age in the city was 43.3 years. 20.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.9% were from 25 to 44; 23.1% were from 45 to 64; and 23.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.8% male and 50.2% female.



In Disney's 1985 film Return to Oz, Doctor J.B. Worley's Clinic is set in Chase County near Cottonwood Falls.


Primary and Secondary Education

The community is served by Chase County USD 284 public school district. It has two schools.

  • Chase County Junior/Senior High School, 600 Main St.

The Chase County High School mascot is Chase County Bulldogs.

The former Cottonwood Falls High School mascot was Cottonwood Falls Wildcats.


  • Burnley Memorial Library, 401 Oak St.



K-177 highway passes north-south through the city. Chase County Airport, FAA:9K0, located south-east of 8th St and Airport Rd.


Notable people

  • Dudley Doolittle (1881-1957), U.S. Representative from Kansas, lawyer, banker.
  • Harley Martin (1880-1951), Wisconsin state legislator and farmer
  • William Morgan (1866-1932), newspaper publisher and editor, author, lieutenant governor of Kansas 1915-19
  • Samuel Wood (December 30, 1825 – June 23, 1891), was an American attorney and Kansas politician.
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