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Chase County, Kansas

Chase County, Kansas, with bluestem pastures is in the heart of cattle country, an important industry that began in the late 19th century. Cowboys are celebrated every year at the Flint Hills Rodeo, held annually since 1937. The Chase County courthouse in Cottonwood Falls is one of the most distinctive in the state. Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne is remembered with a memorial where he died in an airline crash.

Chase County, Kansas, was established in 1859 and named after Ohio Governor and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Salmon Chase. Located in the bluestem pasture region of Kansas, this was the perfect environment to feed cattle for market. Stephen Jones established Spring Hill Ranch in Chase County and was a leader in enclosed ranching, a change in practice to the open range. After he moved his cattle operations to Kansas in the late 1870s, others followed, and the Flint Hills region cattle industry expanded in the 1880s and 1890s.

John G. Haskell was a prominent Kansas architect when he was selected to design the Chase County Courthouse. The three-story Second Empire style courthouse was built with native limestone quarried in the Flint Hills and completed in 1873. It is the oldest courthouse still in use in Kansas. 

Knute Rockne was well known as Notre Dame’s football coach. He was on a passenger flight in 1931 when his plane crashed and all eight aboard were killed. The crash resulted in changes to air traffic safety regulations. Several markers were placed in memory of the men who died.

The Flint Hills Rodeo began on the farm of Emmett Roberts near Strong City in Chase County in 1937. The Roberts held a rodeo the following year, and the tradition has continued without fail to celebrate and demonstrate skills needed to survive in the cattle industry. It is the oldest consecutive rodeo in Kansas.   

In addition to the courthouse, other Chase County properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places and Register of Historic Kansas Places include Spring Hill Ranch, or Z-Bar Ranch, also a National Historic Landmark, the Strong City depot, and Strong City opera house.

Congressman Dudley Doolittle, who served from 1913 to 1919, is from Chase County, as was Samuel Wood who was disbarred and killed during the Stevens County Seat War. Wood was a friend of Salmon Chase.

Quick Facts

Date Established: February 11, 1859
Date Organized: March 15, 1859
County Seat: Cottonwood Falls
Kansas Region: South Central
Physiographic Region: Flint Hills Uplands and Osage Cuestas (Small part)
Scenic Byways: Flint Hills
Courthouse: October 17, 1873


1859 - Chase County is established February 11; organized March 15
1873 - Chase County courthouse is completed
1878 - Stephen Jones purchases a parcel of land, which becomes Spring Hill Ranch
1931 - Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne is killed in a plane in Chase County
1937 - Flint Hills Rodeo begins

More on Chase County


Entry: Chase County, Kansas

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: February 2010

Date Modified: August 2023

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.