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Lyons, Kansas
Location within Rice County and Kansas
Location within Rice County and Kansas
KDOT map of Rice County (legend)
Country United States
State Kansas
County Rice
Township Atlanta & Harrison
Founded 1870
Incorporated 1880
Named for Freeman Lyons
 • Total 2.58 sq mi (6.70 km2)
 • Land 2.58 sq mi (6.70 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
1,680 ft (510 m)
 • Total 3,611
 • Density 1,399.6/sq mi (539.0/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code 620
FIPS code 20-43525
GNIS ID 475805

Lyons is a city in and the county seat of Rice County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2020 census, the population of the city was 3,611.


Stouffer's Railroad Map of Kansas 1915-1918 Rice County
1915 Railroad Map of Rice County

For millennia, the land now known as Kansas was inhabited by Native Americans.

Although Coronado's exact route across the plains is uncertain and has been widely disputed, he and his men are thought to have camped near the present location of Lyons on their quest for Quivira, a Native American place which Indians to the southwest had told them was fabulously wealthy in gold. West of Lyons is a cross commemorating Juan de Padilla, a member of Coronado's expedition, who returned the following year as a missionary. He was killed in 1542 by Native Americans after establishing a church in the area, and is considered the first Christian martyr in North America.

In 1803, most of modern Kansas was secured by the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

Lyons Main Street (U.S. Highway 56) is based on the Santa Fe Trail.

In 1854, the Kansas Territory was organized, then in 1861 Kansas became the 34th U.S. state. In 1867, Rice County was founded.

Lyons was originally called Atlanta, and under the latter name was founded in 1870. It was renamed Lyons in 1876, in honor of Freeman J. Lyons.

In 1878, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and parties from Marion County and McPherson County chartered the Marion and McPherson Railway Company. In 1879, a branch line was built from Florence to McPherson, in 1880 it was extended to Lyons, in 1881 it was extended to Ellinwood. The line was leased and operated by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The line from Florence to Marion, was abandoned in 1968. In 1992, the line from Marion to McPherson was sold to Central Kansas Railway. In 1993, after heavy flood damage, the line from Marion to McPherson was abandoned. The original branch line connected Florence, Marion, Canada, Hillsboro, Lehigh, Canton, Galva, McPherson, Conway, Windom, Little River, Mitchell, Lyons, Chase, Ellinwood.

Lyons was incorporated as a city in 1880, the same year the railroad was built through it.

In 1890, the Western Salt Company put down its first shaft to mine Salt in Lyons.

In the 1970s the federal government was interested in using a local site for the burial of high-level nuclear waste.


Lyons is located at 38°20′42″N 98°12′9″W / 38.34500°N 98.20250°W / 38.34500; -98.20250 (38.344962, -98.202493). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.36 square miles (6.11 km2), all land.


According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Lyons has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfa" on climate maps. A humid continental climate (Köppen prefix D and a third letter of an or b) is a climatic region defined by Russian German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1900,[1] which is typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 509
1890 1,754 244.6%
1900 1,736 −1.0%
1910 2,071 19.3%
1920 2,516 21.5%
1930 2,939 16.8%
1940 4,497 53.0%
1950 4,545 1.1%
1960 4,592 1.0%
1970 4,355 −5.2%
1980 4,134 −5.1%
1990 3,688 −10.8%
2000 3,732 1.2%
2010 3,739 0.2%
2020 3,611 −3.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 3,739 people, 1,503 households, and 952 families living in the city. The population density was 1,584.3 inhabitants per square mile (611.7/km2). There were 1,716 housing units at an average density of 727.1 per square mile (280.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 85.7% White, 1.3% African American, 0.9% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 7.9% from other races, and 3.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 20.3% of the population.

There were 1,503 households, of which 31.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.0% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 36.7% were non-families. 32.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.4% 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 3.04.

The median age in the city was 38.2 years. 25.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 22.5% were from 25 to 44; 23.8% were from 45 to 64; and 18.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.0% male and 51.0% female.


Lyons Salt Company and Compass Minerals is located on the southeast side of Lyons.


The community is served by Lyons USD 405 public school district.

Notable people

Notable individuals who were born in and/or have lived in Lyons include:

  • William Borah (1865-1940), U.S. Senator from Idaho
  • Marshall Christmann (1976- ), Kansas state legislator
  • James Fankhauser (1939- ), conductor, singer
  • Orville Harrold (1878-1933), actor, opera singer
  • Shirley Knight (1938-2020), Hollywood actress
  • James Pulliam (1925-2005), architect
  • Marcia Rodd (1940- ), actress
  • Jerry Cox Vasconcells (1892-1950), U.S. Army captain, World War I flying ace
  • Milton R. Wolf (1971- ), radiologist, Kansas politician
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