Riley County, Kansas, (population 69,083) was organized in 1855 as one of the first counties in Kansas Territory. Nearby Fort Riley, established in 1853 to provide protection for the Santa Fe and Oregon trails, was a factor in encouraging settlement in the area. Fort Riley remains active in national defense and plays an important role in Riley County life and in the regional economy.
The five incorporated cities in the county include Leonardville, Ogden, Randolph, Riley, and Manhattan. County seat Manhattan is home to Kansas State University, one of the first land grant colleges in the United States, established in 1863.
Riley County is located in the Kansas Flint Hills and contains one of the best-preserved prairie ecosystems in the world. The Konza Prairie, a 3,487-hectare native tall grass prairie preserve operated by Kansas State University, conducts ongoing prairie research. The eastern edge of the county is marked by Tuttle Creek reservoir, constructed in 1959 for flood control, downstream river management, and recreation.
Riley County’s economy has long been associated with farming and ranching operations, which provide a contrast to the highly transient populations associated with the college and the fort.
Manhattan’s newly restored clock is a focal point of the 1905 limestone courthouse, a contributing property in the town’s recently designated National Register Historic Downtown District.
The Riley County Historical Museum, established in 1916, operates a number of attractions, including the Wolf House Museum, an 1868 boarding house; Hartford House Museum, an 1868 prefabricated house; Pioneer Log Cabin; Rocky Ford School, a 1903 stone schoolhouse; and the Goodnow House State Historic Site, an 1861 stone home.
Designated a Preserve America Community in November 2008.
For more information
Riley County Historical Research