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Marion, Kansas
Marion County Courthouse (2009)
Marion County Courthouse (2009)
Location within Marion County and Kansas
Location within Marion County and Kansas
KDOT map of Marion County (legend)
Country United States
State Kansas
County Marion
Township Centre
Platted 1866, 1871, 1873
Incorporated 1875
Named for Francis Marion
 • Type Mayor–Council
 • Total 2.70 sq mi (6.98 km2)
 • Land 2.69 sq mi (6.96 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.02 km2)
1,309 ft (399 m)
 • Total 1,922
 • Density 711.9/sq mi (275.36/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code 620
FIPS code 20-44750
GNIS ID 477366
W i k i p e d i a

Marion is a city in, and the county seat of, Marion County, Kansas, United States. It was named in honor of Francis Marion, a Brigadier General of the American Revolutionary War, known as the "Swamp Fox". As of the 2020 census, the population of the city was 1,922.


Marion Library, in former Santa Fe depot (grain elevator in background) (2011)

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

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

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 1806, Zebulon Pike led the Pike expedition westward from St Louis, Missouri, of which part of their journey followed the Cottonwood River through Marion County near the current cities of Florence, Marion, Durham.

In 1854, the Kansas Territory was organized, then in 1861 Kansas became the 34th U.S. state. In 1855, Marion County was established within the Kansas Territory, which included the land for modern day Marion.

The city of Marion Centre was founded in 1860 and became the county seat. A post office was established in Marion Centre on September 30, 1862 then was renamed to Marion on October 15, 1881. The namesake of the city is Francis Marion.

As early as 1875, city leaders of Marion held a meeting to consider a branch railroad from Florence. 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. Later, the Santa Fe depot building was converted into the Marion Library. Most locals still refer to this railroad as the "Santa Fe".

In 1887, the Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railway built a branch line north-south from Herington through Marion to Caldwell. It foreclosed in 1891 and was taken over by Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway, which shut down in 1980 and reorganized as Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas Railroad, merged in 1988 with Missouri Pacific Railroad, and finally merged in 1997 with Union Pacific Railroad. Most locals still refer to this railroad as the "Rock Island".

In 1888, Marion incorporated as a city.

In 1889, the Marion Belt and Chingawasa Springs Railroad built a 4.5-mile (7.2 km) railroad from Marion north-east to Chingawasa Springs. A hotel was built near the site of the spa at Chingawasa Springs, and a depot and eatery as well. Both Santa Fe and Rock Island offered round trip fares from Chicago and western cities to Chingawasa Springs. An economic panic in 1893 closed down the health spa and hotel, and quarry business along the tracks never developed sufficiently. In 1893, the railroad ceased operations, and tracks were removed in 1910.

20th century

Downtown marion kansas 2009
Marion business district (2009)

The National Old Trails Road, also known as the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway, was established in 1912, and was routed through Lehigh, Hillsboro, Marion and Lost Springs.

In 1937, the Marion County Lake was completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps south-east of Marion for the purpose of recreation. There were numerous floods during the early history of Marion. In June and July 1951, due to heavy rains, rivers and streams flooded numerous cities in Kansas, including Marion. Many reservoirs and levees were built in Kansas as part of a response to the Great Flood of 1951. From 1964 to 1968, the Marion Reservoir was constructed north-west of Marion. Downstream from the Marion Reservoir, levees were built in the low areas of Marion and Florence.

21st century

In 2010, the Keystone-Cushing Pipeline (Phase II) was constructed west of Marion, north to south through Marion County, with much controversy over road damage, tax exemption, and environmental concerns (if a leak ever occurs).


Francis Marion 001
Francis Marion (late 1700s)

Marion is located at 38°20′56″N 97°0′58″W / 38.34889°N 97.01611°W / 38.34889; -97.01611 (38.348952, -97.016037), in the Flint Hills. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.99 square miles (7.74 km2), of which 2.98 square miles (7.72 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, Marion has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.

Area events

  • Chingawassa Days Festival
  • Old Settler's Day
  • Art in the Park and Craft Show

Area attractions

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

  • Elgin Hotel (NRHP), 115 North 3rd Street. Currently a Bed and Breakfast.
  • First Presbyterian Church (NRHP), 610 East Lawrence Street.
  • Hill Grade School (NRHP), 601 East Main Street.
  • Marion County Courthouse (NRHP), 200 South 3rd Street.
  • Marion County Museum, 623 East Main Street. Formerly the First Baptist Church from 1882 to mid-1950s.
  • Marion County Lake, 1-mile (1.6 km) east of Marion on 190th Street (Main) then 1.75 miles (2.82 km) south on Upland Road.
  • Marion Reservoir, exits closest to farther from Marion along US-56: Marion cove and Cottonwood Point cove (Pawnee Road), Overlook and Dam (Old Mill Road), Hillsboro cove (Nighthawk Road), French Creek cove (Limestone Road).


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 857
1890 2,047 138.9%
1900 1,824 −10.9%
1910 1,841 0.9%
1920 1,928 4.7%
1930 1,959 1.6%
1940 2,086 6.5%
1950 2,050 −1.7%
1960 2,169 5.8%
1970 2,052 −5.4%
1980 1,951 −4.9%
1990 1,906 −2.3%
2000 2,110 10.7%
2010 1,927 −8.7%
2020 1,922 −0.3%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

At the 2010 census, there were 1,927 people, 846 households, and 514 families residing in the city. The population density was 646.6 per square mile (249.7/km2). There were 973 housing units at an average density of 326.5 per square mile (126.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97.6% White, 0.6% African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.5% from other races, and 0.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.4% of the population.

There were 846 households, of which 28.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.3% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 39.2% were non-families. 36.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 19.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.90.

The median age was 44 years. 24.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 6.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 20.5% were from 25 to 44; 25.6% were from 45 to 64; and 23% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup was 47.5% male and 52.5% female.


Primary and secondary education

The community is served by Marion–Florence USD 408 public school district. The high school is a member of T.E.E.N., a shared video teaching network between five area high schools.

  • Marion High School (Kansas), 701 E Main St.
  • Marion Middle School, 125 S Lincoln St.
  • Marion Elementary School, 1400 E Lawrence St.


Each USD 408 school has a library for student access. The city is served by the Marion City Library at 101 Library Street. The library is a member of the North Central Kansas Libraries System, which provides an inter-library book loan service between its members.


Map elk chase kansas
1893 Railroad Map


U.S. Route 56 runs along the city's northern side, and U.S. Route 77 is 2 miles (3.2 km) east of the city. Kansas Highway 256 runs through the center of town as Main Street, past the east end business section, Marion High School and the downtown business district. A regional Kansas Department of Transportation office is located on the north side of Marion at the corner of U.S. Route 56 and Cedar Street.

The Oklahoma Kansas Texas (OKT) line of the Union Pacific Railroad runs north-south through the city.

Marion Municipal Airport, FAA:43K, is located south-east of Marion and centered at 38°20′15″N 96°59′30″W / 38.337500°N 96.991666°W / 38.337500; -96.991666.

Notable people

  • Randolph Carpenter (1894–1956), U.S. Representative from Kansas and a U.S. Army World War I veteran.
  • Charlie Faust (1880–1915), Major League baseball player
  • Beverly Hoch (born 1951), soprano
  • Edward Hoch (1849–1925), Kansas House of Representatives, 17th Governor of Kansas, editor of Marion County Record, Hoch Auditoria at University of Kansas was named after him.
  • Homer Hoch (1879–1949), U.S. Congressman, member of Kansas Supreme Court, lawyer, editor of Marion County Record
  • Tex Jones (1885–1938), Major League baseball player
  • Eric Meyer (born 1953), journalism professor at University of Illinois, Pulitzer Prize nominee, president and majority owner of Hoch Publishing Co (in Marion)
  • Fay Moulton (1876–1945), Olympic sprinter, football player and coach, lawyer; served as fifth head football coach at Kansas State Agricultural College, now Kansas State University
  • Samuel Peters (1842–1910), Captain in Union Army (1861–1865), Kansas State Senate (1874–1875), Judge of 9th District (1875–1883), U.S. House of Representatives (1883–1891), editor of * William Runyan (1870–1957), preacher, songwriter who composed "Great Is Thy Faithfulness"
  • Carla Stovall (born 1957), Kansas Attorney General
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