Situated in the northwestern part of Montgomery County at the confluence of
Duck Creek with Elk River, Elk City began as a trading post established by
John Kappell in early 1868 when the area was still part of the Diminished
Reserve of the Osage Indians. Building a
small cabin that doubled as the trading post Kappell bartered his wares with
the Indians for their furs, and also supplied area settlers with a few of
the necessities at high prices.
Located on the rich bottomland of the Elk River in a valley surrounded
by stone and oak covered hills, several people thought the location was
perfect for a townsite and in December, 1868 a town company was organized.
Elk City became the first town established in Montgomery County.
next business started in the town was that by A. E. Baird in a log building,
which consisted of general merchandise and the the next year saw S. B.
Davis, T. J. Brown and Samuel Maples build the first sawmill. At that time
school was taught by William Osborne in a log house belonging to a man named
Chandler. A post office was established at Elk City in November, 1869 in Osa
Sherman's store. A couple of years later, M.D. Wright, who owned the
stationery and notion store, became the postmaster and his store -- the post
Camp, by O. Drum, 1906.
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businesses came in 1870 when M.D. Wright began to sell stationery, notions,
etc., in a little log building, A. R. Quigg engaged in the hardware trade and a
blacksmith shop was built by J. P. Morgan. At some point, Kappel's old trading
post, after having undergone overhauling, with new front, etc., became the Watts
& Masterman's furniture store.
and more people coming to the area, the settlement's population increased enough
that it officially became a city of the third class in the spring of 1871. That
same year plans were in the works to build a school for the children in the
community. In the meantime they attended school in a building erected by Thomas
Harris for a hotel, until it the school was completed in January, 1872. The one
room building was a one story frame structure measuring 26x40 feet.
Although Elk City afterward proved a successful attempt as an enterprise of town
building, her beginning was made in the midst of spirited rivalry. Bloomfield,
about a mile northeast, and Tipton a little way east of the town, were
established, and sought to win in the race for supremacy. But Elk City took the
lead, outstripping these two places, which ceased to exist.
the Kansas City, Lawrence & Southern Railway was constructed to Elk City which
was advantageous in stimulating its improvement and growth.
Presbyterian Church was organized in 1880 and a church was built the same year.
The one-story stone structure not only served the Presbyterians, but several
other church congregations as well.
early 1880s, the town boasted a population of about 500, a school, and several
large brick business buildings, including a hotel. By this time, the school was
becoming too crowded and a new two-story brick building was erected in the fall
of 1882, at which time the city's pupils numbered 218.
1882 the Missionary Baptist Church purchased the old school building
and remodeled it fitting for a place of worship.
The first bank, the Elk City banking house, was established in March,
1881. By 1883, the town supported several manufacturing facilities
including the sawmill, the Elk City flouring mill, owned by Wright &
Musson, and a brick yard owned by Price & Woodring. Other smallerr
factories including wagon shops, and a manufactory for the making of the
Double Spiral Bed Springs.
1890 Elk City reached its peak population of 796.
By the turn of the century two railroads were running through the city --
the Missouri Pacific and on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe. In 1902 a
company was organized to prospect for oil and gas. After several initial
failures, gas was found and several companies began operations in the
1910, the town boasted a brick and tile manufacturing works, a flour mill,
a weekly newspaper, two banks, express and telegraph offices, a post
office with six rural routes, and a population of 659 people.
the next several decades Elk City remained a small town with its
population fluctuating between 600-700 people through 1940. In the
meantime, the number of students in the area had again demanded the need
for a new school. In 1929 a beautiful new high school was built.
Previously, all grades attended school in the same building.
1940, Elk City's population began to drop each decade. As more and more
people continued to leave, businesses began to close one by one. The high
school continued to serve students until 1970 when it graduated its last
class. Sometime along the way, the grade school also closed. Elk City's
High School remained standing and silent for more than four decades until
it was engulfed by fire and today only the rubble remains.
Today, Elk City is called home to just a little over 300 people. Students
attend school in Independence, about 15 miles to the southeast. The town
still boasts a post office, a bank, and a tavern amongst its many vacant
business buildings. Unfortunately, Elk City lost another historic building
in May, 2015 when the 1900 historic 1st Christian Church was destroyed by
Residents and visitors alike enjoy nearby Elk City Lake, that is famous
for its large catfish and provides boat ramps, a swim beach, camping,
playgrounds, and hiking trails, as well as picturesque views of open
prairie, wooded hills and limestone bluffs. Wildlife watchers can see a
variety of Kansas wildlife, including the large pileated woodpecker which
is common in the mature trees along the Elk River.
Elk City, Kansas
P.O. Box 245
Elk City, Kansas 67344