Main Births etc
Salina, Kansas
—  City  —
A water tower in Salina, bearing the city's name and the Chamber of Commerce's URL of, and their slogan of "Right place. Right reason. Right now."
A water tower in Salina, bearing the Chamber of Commerce's URL and slogan.
Motto: Right place. Right reason. Right now.
Location within Saline County (left) and Kansas
Coordinates: 38°50′25″N 97°36′41″W / 38.84028, -97.61139Coordinates: 38°50′25″N 97°36′41″W / 38.84028, -97.61139[1]
Country United States
State Kansas
County Saline
Founded 1858
Incorporated 1870
 • Type Commission-manager
 • City manager Jason Gage
 • Mayor Aaron Householter
 • Total 25.15 sq mi (65.14 km2)
 • Land 25.11 sq mi (65.03 km2)
 • Water 0.04 sq mi (0.10 km2)
Elevation[1] 1,224 ft (373 m)
Population (2010)[3]
 • Total 47,707
 • Estimate (2013)[4] 47,846
 • Density 1,900/sq mi (730/km2)
 • µSA 61,782
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 67401-67402 [5]
Area code 785
FIPS code 20-62700 [1]
GNIS feature ID 0476808 [1]
Website City Website

Salina /səˈlnə/ is a city in and the county seat of Saline County, Kansas, United States.[1] As of the 2010 census, the city population was 47,707.[6] Located in one of the world's largest wheat-producing areas, Salina is a regional trade center for north-central Kansas.


19th century[]

Prior to European colonization of the area, the site of Salina was located within the territory of the Kansa people.[7] Claimed first by France as part of Louisiana and later acquired by the United States with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, it laid within the area organized by the U.S. as Kansas Territory in 1854.[8][9] In 1856, a colony led by Preston B. Plumb established the first American settlement near the site at a location on the Saline River.[10]

Settlers led by journalist and lawyer William A. Phillips founded Salina in 1858. In the next two years, the territorial legislature chartered the town company, organized the surrounding area as Saline County, and named Salina the county seat. The westernmost town on the Smoky Hill Trail, Salina established itself as a trading post for westbound immigrants, prospectors bound for Pikes Peak, and area American Indian tribes. The town's growth halted with the outbreak of the American Civil War when much of the male population left to join the U.S. Army.[11]

In 1862, local residents fended off American Indian raiders only to fall victim to a second assault by bushwhackers later that year.[11] In May and June 1864, the Salina Stockade was built to protect the town against further Indian raids. Troops garrisoned Salina until March 1865, and some may have returned in June 1865. The stockade was probably used until at least spring or summer 1865.

1915 Railroad Map of Saline County

Growth returned with the soldiers after the war, and the town expanded rapidly with the arrival of the Kansas Pacific Railway in 1867. Salina incorporated as a city in 1870.[11][12] The cattle trade arrived in 1872, transforming Salina into a cowtown. The trade brought the city further prosperity, but also a rowdy culture that agitated local residents. The cattle trade relocated westward just two years later.[13] During the 1870s, wheat became the dominant crop in the area, steam-powered flour mills were built, and agriculture became the engine of the local economy. In 1874, Salina resident E. R. Switzer introduced alfalfa to area farmers, and its cultivation began to spread throughout the state. By 1880, the city was an area industrial center with several mills, a carriage and wagon factory, and a farm implement works.[14] Salina was also the location of the first garment factory of jeans maker Lee which opened in 1889.[15] Over the following decade, three railroads were built through the city.[14] The success of the wholesale and milling industries drove Salina's growth into the early 1900s such that, at one point, it was the third-largest producer in the state and the sixth-largest in the United States.[10]

20th century[]

In 1943, the U.S. Army established Smoky Hill Army Airfield southwest of the city. The installation served as a base for strategic bomber units throughout World War II. Renamed Smoky Hill Air Force Base in 1948, the base closed the following year only to be reopened in 1951 as Schilling Air Force Base, part of Strategic Air Command.[16] The re-opening of the base triggered an economic boom in Salina, causing the city's population to increase by nearly two-thirds during the 1950s.[10] The U.S. Department of Defense closed the base permanently in 1965, but the city of Salina subsequently acquired it and converted it into Salina Municipal Airport and an industrial park.[16] This led to substantial industrial development, attracting firms such as Beechcraft, and made manufacturing a primary driver of the local economy.[17]

Today, Salina continues to serve as a center for trade, transportation, and industry in north-central Kansas.[10]


2005 KDOT Map of Saline County (map legend)

Salina is located at 38°49′27″N 97°36′26″W / 38.82417, -97.60722 (38.824267, −97.607205) at an elevation of 1,224 feet (373 m).[1] Located in north-central Kansas at the intersection of Interstate 70 and Interstate 135, it is 81 miles (130 km) north of Wichita, 164 miles (264 km) west of Kansas City, and 401 miles (645 km) east of Denver.[18]

Salina lies in the Smoky Hills region of the Great Plains approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) west-southwest of the confluence of the Saline and Smoky Hill Rivers.[19] The Smoky Hill River runs north then northeast through the eastern part of the city; the Saline River flows southeast immediately north of the city.[20] In the northeast part of the city, the old channel of the Smoky Hill branches off from the river's current course and winds west, north, and back east before draining back into the river. Mulberry Creek, a tributary of the Saline, flows northeast through the far northern part of the city. Dry Creek, a tributary of Mulberry Creek, flows north through the western part of the city.[21]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 25.15 square miles (65.14 km2), of which 25.11 square miles (65.03 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) is water.[2]


Salina lies in the transition area between North America's humid subtropical (Köppen Cfa) and humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa) zones. Consequently, summers in Salina are typically hot and humid, and winters are typically cold and dry.[22] On average, January is the coldest month, July is the hottest month, and May is the month with the highest amount of precipitation.[23]

As is common in the region, Salina is prone to severe thunderstorms which sometimes produce damaging winds, hail, and tornadoes. For example, on September 25, 1973, a tornado measuring F3 passed through the southeast part of town, injuring six people and destroying two houses and a trailer park.[24] On June 11, 2008, another EF3 tornado passed on the south side of the town, severely damaging several buildings.[25]

The annual average temperature in Salina is 56.1 °F (13 °C). The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 31.0 °F (−0.6 °C) in January to 81.1 °F (27.3 °C) in July. The high temperature reaches or exceeds 90 °F (32 °C) an average of 62.6 days per year and reaches or exceeds 100 °F (38 °C) an average of 14.6 days per year. The low temperature falls below the freezing point, 32 °F (0 °C), an average of 111.8 days per year and below 0 °F (−18 °C) an average of 3.8 days per year.[26] The hottest temperature recorded in Salina was 117 °F (47 °C) on August 12, 1936; the coldest temperature recorded was −31 °F (−35 °C) on February 13, 1905.[27]

On average, Salina receives 32.2 in (818 mm) of precipitation per year with the largest share being received in May through August.[27] The average relative humidity is 64%.[28] Snowfall averages 18.4 inches (47 cm) per year.[27]

Climate data for Salina Municipal Airport (KSLN)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 78
Average high °F (°C) 41.6
Daily mean °F (°C) 31.0
Average low °F (°C) 20.5
Record low °F (°C) −28
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.80
Snowfall inches (cm) 6.7
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 5.2 5.2 7.6 8.5 10.6 9.6 7.9 7.7 6.9 6.4 5.3 5.3 86.1
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 3.4 1.7 1.1 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.9 1.9 9.4
humidity 69 63 67 65 71 62 59 61 50 56 66 73 64
Source: National Weather Service;[26][27][29] Weatherbase[28]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1870 918
1880 3,111 238.9%
1890 6,149 97.7%
1900 6,074 −1.2%
1910 9,688 59.5%
1920 15,085 55.7%
1930 20,155 33.6%
1940 21,073 4.6%
1950 26,176 24.2%
1960 43,202 65.0%
1970 37,714 −12.7%
1980 41,843 10.9%
1990 42,303 1.1%
2000 45,679 8.0%
2010 47,707 4.4%
Est. 2013 47,846 [4] 4.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[30]

Salina is the anchor city of the Salina Micropolitan Statistical Area which includes all of Saline and Ottawa counties.[31]

2010 census[]

As of the 2010 census, there were 47,707 people, 19,391 households, and 12,024 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,092.4 people per square mile (807.9/km²). There were 20,803 housing units at an average density of 916.4 per square mile (353.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 86.2% White, 3.7% African American, 2.3% Asian, 0.5% American Indian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 3.8% from some other race, and 3.3% from two or more races. Hispanics and Latinos of any race were 10.7% of the population.[6]

There were 19,391 households of which 31.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.3% were married couples living together, 4.9% had a male householder with no wife present, 11.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.0% were non-families. 31.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.6% 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 2.99.[6]

The median age in the city was 36.4 years. 25.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.4% were from 25 to 44; 25.3% were from 45 to 64; and 14.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.4% male and 50.6% female.[6]

The median income for a household in the city was $42,027, and the median income for a family was $54,491. Males had a median income of $39,143 versus $28,145 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,253. About 9.3% of families and 13.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.1% of those under age 18 and 7.3% of those age 65 or over.[6]

2000 census[]

As of the census[32] of 2000, there were 45,679 people, 18,523 households, and 11,873 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,009.6 people per square mile (775.9/km²). There were 19,599 housing units at an average density of 862.2 per square mile (332.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 87.76% White, 3.57% Black or African American, 0.56% Native American, 1.96% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 3.78% from other races, and 2.32% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.71% of the population.[32]

There were 18,523 households, of which 31.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.8% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.9% were non-families. 30.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.3% 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 2.98.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.9% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 21.1% from 45 to 64, and 14.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 95.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,066, and the median income for a family was $45,433. Males had a median income of $31,250 versus $21,944 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,593. About 6.7% of families and 9.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.6% of those under age 18 and 9.2% of those age 65 or over.[6]


Downtown Salina grain elevators

Manufacturing is the predominant industry in Salina.[33]:p.11 Agriculture transportation is also a major industry,[33]:p.17 and Salina's grain elevators are visible from miles away. This agrarian emphasis is even reflected in a local Catholic Church, Sacred Heart Cathedral, which is built in white cylindrical shapes intriguingly like grain silos.[34] However, Salina has several other important employers. Tony's Pizza, a Schwan Food Company brand, has operations in Salina.[35] Tony's makes consumer retail frozen pizzas as well as food intended for school cafeterias and other institutions.[35] Additionally, Philips Lighting,[36] Exide Battery,[37] Great Plains Manufacturing (farm equipment),[38] ElDorado National (commercial bus manufacturer)[39] and Asurion all have a presence in the community.

As of 2010, 71.0% of the population over the age of 16 was in the labor force. 0.4% was in the armed forces, and 70.6% was in the civilian labor force with 66.9% being employed and 3.7% unemployed. The composition, by occupation, of the employed civilian labor force was: 27.2% in management, business, science, and arts; 25.4% in sales and office occupations; 19.4% in service occupations; 9.9% in natural resources, construction, and maintenance; 18.2% in production, transportation, and material moving. The three industries employing the largest percentages of the working civilian labor force were: educational services, health care, and social assistance (21.2%); manufacturing (17.8%); and retail trade (13.1%).[6]

The cost of living in Salina is relatively low; compared to a U.S. average of 100, the cost of living index for the city is 80.9.[40] As of 2010, the median home value in the city was $109,700, the median selected monthly owner cost was $1,070 for housing units with a mortgage and $396 for those without, and the median gross rent was $599.[6]

Top employers[]

According to Salina's 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[41] these are the city's top employers:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Tony's Pizza 1,850
2 Salina Regional Health Center 1,082
3 USD 305 935
4 Exide 800
5 Great Plains Manufacturing 650
6 Philips Lighting 600
7 City of Salina 493
8 Saline County 277
9 ElDorado National 255


Salina is a city of the first class with a commission-manager form of government which it adopted in 1921.[42][43] The city commission consists of five members elected at large, one of whom the commission annually selects to serve as mayor. Commission candidates who receive the most and second most votes are elected for a four-year term; the candidate who receives the third most votes is elected for a two-year term.[43] The commission sets policy and appoints the city manager. The city manager is the city's chief executive, responsible for administering the city government and appointing all city employees.[44]

As the county seat, Salina is the administrative center of Saline County. The county courthouse is located downtown, and all departments of the county government base their operations in the city.[45]

Salina lies within Kansas's 1st U.S. Congressional District. For the purposes of representation in the Kansas Legislature, the city is located in the 24th district of the Kansas Senate and the 69th, 71st, and 108th districts of the Kansas House of Representatives.[42]


Colleges and universities[]

  • Brown Mackie College
  • Kansas State University - Salina
  • Kansas Wesleyan University
  • Marymount College (closed in 1989)
  • Salina Area Technical College
  • Salina Normal University (closed in 1904)[46]
  • University of Kansas School of Medicine- Salina

Primary and secondary education[]

Salina Public Schools (USD 305) operates twelve schools in Salina:[40][47][48][49][50]

  • Coronado Elementary School (Grades K-5)
  • Cottonwood Elementary School (K-5)
  • Grace E. Stewart Elementary School (K-5)
  • Heusner Elementary School (K-5)
  • Meadowlark Ridge Elementary School (K-5)
  • Oakdale Elementary School (K-5)
  • Schilling Elementary School (K-5)
  • Sunset Elementary School (K-5)
  • Lakewood Middle School (6-8)
  • Salina South Middle School (6-8)
  • Salina High School Central (9-12)
  • Salina High School South (9-12)

There are also four private schools in Salina:[40]

  • St. John's Military School (6-12), male only[51]
  • St. Mary's Grade School (Pre-K-6), Catholic school
  • Salina Christian Academy (Pre-K-10)[52]
  • Sacred Heart Junior-Senior High School (7-12), Catholic school



The Salina "CityGo" service

Interstate 70 and U.S. Route 40 run concurrently east-west north of Salina. Interstate 135 and U.S. Route 81 run concurrently north-south along the west side of the city. I-70/I-135 interchange northwest of the city is the northern terminus of I-135.[53] K-140, which approaches Salina from the southwest, formally ends at its interchange with I-135 before entering the city as State Street. North of Salina, the city's main north-south thoroughfare, Ninth Street, becomes K-143 at its interchange with I-70.[21]

CityGo is the local public transport bus service, operating four routes in the city (yellow, blue, red, purple). CityGo also provides intercity paratransit bus service to surrounding communities.[54] Greyhound Lines offers long-distance bus service.[55]

Salina Municipal Airport is located immediately southwest of the city.[56] Used primarily for general aviation, it hosts one commercial airline (SeaPort Airlines) under the Essential Air Service program.[56][57]

Union Pacific Railroad operates one freight rail line through Salina. Its Kansas Pacific (KP) Line runs northeast-southwest through the northern part of the city.[21][58] Salina is also the southeastern terminus of the Salina Subdivision of the Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad.[59]


The city government's Department of Public Works is responsible for water treatment and distribution, waste water removal, sewer maintenance, and trash collection. Westar Energy provides electric power.[60] Residents primarily use natural gas for heating fuel; natural gas service is provided by Kansas Gas Service.[40][60]

Health care[]

There are two hospitals in Salina: Salina Regional Health Center, a 204-bed not-for-profit general medical and surgical facility; and Salina Surgical Hospital, a specialized, 16-bed surgical facility.[61][62]


The Salina Journal is the local newspaper, published daily.[63]

Salina is a center of broadcast media for north-central Kansas. Three AM and 13 FM radio stations are licensed to and/or broadcast from the city.[64] Salina is in the Wichita-Hutchinson television market, and five television stations broadcast from the city.[65][66] These include two independent stations as well as ABC, Fox, and NBC affiliates which are satellites of their respective affiliates in Wichita.[67][68] Salina is also home to the only Public, educational, and government access (PEG) cable TV channels in the state. Cox Communications is the main cable system serving the city, and customers can see local programming and create their own programming to be shown on channels 20 and 21.



The city holds several community events throughout the year.[69] Each June, the Salina Arts & Humanities department holds the Smoky Hill River Festival. Held in Oakdale Park and lasting three and a half days, the Festival includes arts and crafts shows, music concerts, games, and other activities.[70] Originally held as a downtown street parade in 1976 to celebrate the United States Bicentennial, the festival proved popular enough for the city to hold it every year.[71] To celebrate Independence Day, the city puts on its All American Fourth and Play Day in the Park which include children’s games, music, and dance performances in Oakdale Park.[72] The Smoky Hill Museum Street Fair takes place in September and includes a parade, a chili cook-off, historic demonstrations, and other entertainment.[73] In November, downtown Salina hosts the city’s Christmas Festival which includes a 5k run, a mile walk, live music, dance performances, children’s entertainment and the Parade of Lights, a parade of floats decorated with Christmas lights.[74]

In addition, private organizations hold annual expos, fairs, trade shows, and various other events in Salina. Several of these pertain to area agriculture including the Chamber of Commerce’s Mid-America Farm Expo in March, the Discover Salina Naturally Festival in May, the 4-H Tri-Rivers Fair and Rodeo in August, and The Land Institute’s Prairie Festival in September. Other annual events held in the city include the Home Builders Associations of Salina’s Home and Leisure Show in February, the ISIS Shrine Circus and Saline County Mounted Patrol Rodeo in April, the Smoky Hill Sportsman Expo in August, Blue Heaven Studios’ Blues Masters at the Crossroads festival in October, and the Prairie Longrifles Wild West Trade Show in December as well as several car shows and high school sports events.[69][75]

Points of interest[]

The Smoky Hill Museum, located downtown, contains artifacts and exhibits on local history, agriculture, and education. Its collections date back to 1879. Operated by the city government’s Arts & Humanities department, the museum also offers educational programs to the public.[76]

The Bicentennial Center is the city’s primary indoor event venue. Owned by the city, it contains a 7,500-seat multipurpose arena as well as the 18,000 square-foot Heritage Hall convention center. The Center hosts a variety of events, including concerts, sporting events, and trade shows.[77]

The Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure is a public zoo and wildlife park located six mile west of the city near Hedville.[78] In addition to its animal exhibits, the zoo includes a wildlife museum and theater.[79]


There are more than 70 Christian churches in and around Salina[80][81] including Sacred Heart Cathedral and Christ Cathedral, the respective cathedrals of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salina and the Episcopal Diocese of Western Kansas.[82][83] In addition to the Roman Catholic Diocese,[84] two denominations have regional administrative offices in the city: the Presbytery of Northern Kansas;[85] and the Salina District of the United Methodist Church which is based at Kansas Wesleyan University.[86]

A Buddhist temple is located northwest of the city.[87]


  • Salina formerly hosted the Kansas Cagerz[88] and Salina Rattlers[89] basketball teams.
  • Salina hosts the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I women's basketball national tournament each season in the Bicentennial Center.[90]
  • Salina hosted the Women's Big Eight basketball tournament at the Bicentennial Center. When the Big Eight became the Big 12, the tournament was moved to Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Salina hosts the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) Class 4A State Wrestling Tournament as well as the Class 3A & 4A Volleyball Tournaments, the Class 4A State Basketball Tournament, and the Class 4A State Softball Tournament. Salina also occasionally hosts the Class 4A State Baseball Tournament and one of the state championship football games.
  • Salina host a new arena football team in the Champions Professional Indoor Football League (CPIFL), the Salina Bombers.
  • Salina is the home of the Kansas Wesleyan University Coyotes, a 20-sport National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics athletics program. The Coyotes have been a member of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference since 1928.

In popular culture[]

  • The 1980 teen comedy film Up the Academy was filmed entirely in Salina, mostly on the campus of St. John's Military School.[91]
  • Scenes in the 1955 movie Picnic, starring William Holden and Kim Novak, were filmed in Salina (arrival of the train at the beginning of the movie, The Bensons' mansion)
  • Millie Dillmount, the fictional main character in the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie, is from Salina. She leaves home for New York City, determined never to return, as depicted in the opening number, "Not for the Life of Me."

Notable people[]

Notable individuals who were born in and/or have lived in Salina include former White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater, astronaut Steven Hawley,[92] former Governors of Kansas John W. Carlin[93] and Bill Graves,[92] radio broadcaster Paul Harvey,[94] and pro football player Terence Newman.[95]

See also[]

  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Saline County, Kansas
    • Masonic Temple
    • Whiteford (Price) Archeological Site

Further reading[]

  • Salina: 1858–2008 (Images of America); Salina History Book Committee; Arcadia Publishing; 2008; ISBN 0-7385-6181-9.
  • Salina: Mart of the Middle West; Salina Commercial Club, Padgett's Printing House; 1908. (Various formats eBook)
  • Illustrated Salina: The Forest City; Frederick A. Loomis, S. E. Rankin Publisher, 1892. (Various formats eBook)


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