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Emporia, Kansas
Downtown Emporia (2012)
Downtown Emporia (2012)
Official seal of Emporia, Kansas
Logo for the city of Emporia
Location of Emporia within Lyon County and Kansas
Location of Emporia within Lyon County and Kansas
KDOT map of Lyon County (legend)
Country United States
State Kansas
County Lyon
Founded 1857
Incorporated 1870
 • Type Mayor–Council
 • Total 12.11 sq mi (31.37 km2)
 • Land 12.00 sq mi (31.07 km2)
 • Water 0.11 sq mi (0.30 km2)  0.6%
1,148 ft (350 m)
 • Total 24,139
 • Density 1,993.3/sq mi (769.49/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code 620
FIPS code 20-21275
GNIS ID 477524

Emporia is a city in and the county seat of Lyon County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2020 census, the population of the city was 24,139. Emporia lies between Topeka and Wichita at the intersection of U.S. Route 50 with Interstates 335 and 35 on the Kansas Turnpike. Emporia is also a college town, home to Emporia State University and Flint Hills Technical College. It is home of two annual sporting events: Unbound Gravel (gravel bicycle races) and Dynamic Discs Open (disc golf tournaments).


Sixth Avenue and Merchant Street, Emporia, KS
Sixth Avenue c. 1912

Located on upland prairie, Emporia was founded in 1857, drawing its name from ancient Carthage, a place known in history as a prosperous center of commerce. Emporia is particularly known for its newspaper, the Emporia Gazette, published in the first half of the 20th century by the legendary newspaperman William Allen White. The paper became the widely perceived model of excellence in small-town journalism.

The first railroad was extended to Emporia in 1869.

In 1953, Emporia was the site of the first Veterans Day observance in the United States. At the urging of local shoe cobbler Alvin J. King, U.S. Representative Edward Rees introduced legislation in The United States Congress to rename Armistice Day as Veterans Day. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill into law on October 8, 1954.

On June 8, 1974, an F4 tornado struck Emporia, killing six people, injuring 200 people, and causing $25 million in damages.

On Sunday, March 6, 1988 a heavily armed gunman walked into the Calvary Baptist Church during services and opened fire. The 29-year-old gunman, Cheunphon Ji, had no particular target, killing one person and injuring four others.


Emporia is located at 38°24′14″N 96°10′54″W / 38.40389°N 96.18167°W / 38.40389; -96.18167 (38.408148, -96.187054) in east-central Kansas. It lies along the Kansas Turnpike at its intersection with Interstate 35 and U.S. Highway 50, 108 miles (174 km) southwest of Kansas City, 58 miles (93 km) southwest of Topeka, and 87 miles (140 km) northeast of Wichita on the eastern edge of the Flint Hills. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.94 square miles (30.92 km2), of which 11.83 square miles (30.64 km2) is land and 0.11 square miles (0.28 km2) is water. The Neosho River flows along the northern side of the city. The Cottonwood River, one of its tributaries, flows along the city's southern edge and of two large city parks, Peter Pan and Soden's Grove; the two rivers meet near the eastern boundary of Emporia and flow southeast to join the Arkansas River in Oklahoma.


The city averages about 60 rainy days per year, 59 days with high temperatures of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher, and 124 days with low temperatures below freezing. The average temperature in January is 29 °F (−2 °C), and in July it is 79 °F (26 °C). Annual snowfall averages 10.2 inches (25.9 cm).

Climate data for Emporia, Kansas
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 40
Average low °F (°C) 19
Precipitation inches (cm) 0.7
Source: Weatherbase


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 843
1870 2,168 157.2%
1880 4,631 113.6%
1890 7,551 63.1%
1900 8,223 8.9%
1910 9,058 10.2%
1920 11,273 24.5%
1930 14,067 24.8%
1940 13,188 −6.2%
1950 15,669 18.8%
1960 18,190 16.1%
1970 23,327 28.2%
1980 25,287 8.4%
1990 25,512 0.9%
2000 26,760 4.9%
2010 24,916 −6.9%
2020 24,139 −3.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

Emporia is the principal city of the Emporia Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Lyon and Chase counties.

2010 census

As of the 2010 census, there were 24,916 people, 9,812 households, and 5,571 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,491.6 inhabitants per square mile (962/km2). There were 11,352 housing units at an average density of 1,135.2 per square mile (440/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 79.2% White, 3.2% African American, 3.1% Asian, 0.8% American Indian, 10.5% from some other race, and 3.1% from two or more races. 25.4% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 9,812 households, of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.0% were married couples living together, 5.3% had a male householder with no wife present, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.2% were non-families. 32.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39, and the average family size was 3.08.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 23.5% under the age of 18, 19.7% from 18 to 24, 24.5% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29.0 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.8 males age 18 and over.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,443, and the median income for a family was $47,500. Males had a median income of $32,873 versus $25,821 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,485. About 12.0% of families and 22.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.9% of those under age 18 and 11.9% of those age 65 or over.


Plumb Administration Building
Plumb Administration Building & Albert Taylor Hall at Emporia State University (2012)
Lyon county kansas courthouse 2009
Lyon County courthouse (2009)


The city is served by the Emporia Municipal Airport.


Bus service within the city is provided by LCAT or Lyon County Area Transportation. The agency provides fixed-route bus service to the city of Emporia, and paratransit service to the disabled and the rest of Lyon County. The buses are a service of Lyon County, with significant support coming from the Kansas Department of Transportation. The Greyhound Lines has a bus stop in Emporia.


Emporia is served by the following highways: I-35, I-335, Kansas Turnpike, US-50, K-99.


The former Southern Transcon main line of BNSF Railway (ex-Santa Fe) passes east-west through Emporia. A yard is located in Emporia.

The city was served by Santa Fe passenger trains until the creation of Amtrak in 1971. The daily Southwest Chief served the city from 1971–1997. Service to Emporia station was eliminated in 1997, two years before a fire destroyed the 1884-built station. In 2014, local efforts were started to bring back the station. As of 2018 the future of revitalized service and a new station is still uncertain.


Points of interest

Emporia has 14 structures on the National Register of Historic Places. They are the Old Emporia Public Library, the Finney (Warren Wesley) House, the Granada Theater (also known as the Fox Theater), the Harris-Borman House, the Howe (Richard) House, the Keebler-Stone House, the Kress Building, the Mason (Walt) House, the Anderson Carnegie Memorial Library, the Plumb (Mrs. Preston B.) House, the Soden's Grove Bridge, the Soden (Hallie B.) House, the William Allen White House (also known as Red Rocks), and the Col. Harrison C. and Susan Cross House. There is also an authentic one-room school house located on the Emporia State University campus (near Merchant Street) that is available for tours through the ESU Teachers College and The National Teachers Hall of Fame.

At the Emporia service area of the Kansas Turnpike is a Kansas Historical Marker named Emporia - Home of William Allen White.



In addition to Emporia State University and other large public-sector employers such as the city and county governments, the public schools, and the county hospital, Emporia has several large private-sector employers. Previously, a Tyson Foods beef-packing plant employed more than 2,400 workers. Hostess Brands has a bakery in Emporia. Hopkins Manufacturing Corporation, founded in Emporia in 1953, by E.L. "Bud" Hopkins, and recognized in 2003 as the city's Large Employer of the Year, makes products for the automotive aftermarket. The Braum dairy store chain, based in Oklahoma City, originated in Emporia in 1952 under the name Peter Pan. Simmons Pet Food operates a multi-acre plant in Emporia that manufactures wet dog food.

On January 25, 2008, Tyson unexpectedly announced the layoff of 1,500 workers (more than 60 percent) by March 25, 2008. The company said it needed to move its slaughter operations closer to where the cattle are raised in western Kansas. As the city's largest employer for 37 years, the Tyson plant creates almost 10 percent of the local economy.


Colleges and Universities

Emporia is home to Emporia State University and Flint Hills Technical College. From 1882 to 1974, the private College of Emporia previously existed, and since the city had two colleges during its early years, it was sometimes called the "Athens of Kansas."

Primary and secondary

The community is served by Emporia USD 253 public school district, which has one high school (Emporia High School), one middle school, and six elementary schools.


The Emporia Public Library, has been in operation since 1869 and is the oldest in the state of Kansas to remain in operation.

Notable people

Notable individuals who were born in and/or have lived in Emporia include actor R. Lee Ermey, journalist William Allen White, and college basketball coach Dean Smith.

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