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Elk County Courthouse in Howard, Kansas
Elk County Courthouse

Elk County

County Seat: Howard 
Founded: 1875 
    ·   3,261  (2000) 
    ·   3,327  (1990) 
    · 11,443  (1900) 
Area: 650 Square Miles 
Standard Abbreviation: EK 



The Elk River runs across Elk county from the northwest corner to the southeast corner. The Fall river drains the northeast corner of the county; the southwest corner near Grenola has the beautiful Caney river valley. These various waterways have carved the whole county with big valleys and small canyons. As you travel the county from west to east, you descend about 500 feet from the Flint Hills of Cowley county to the river bottoms that form the Elk City lake in Montgomery county. The rugged terrain leads some to call this area "the Kansas Ozarks."
Farming, ranching, and oil & gas production are all important to the local economy.
US-160 runs across southern Elk County.


Map of Elk County, KS in 1899
Organized in 1875.  County seat Howard.  Created out of the northern portion of what had been Howard county.  Named for the Elk river, which traverses its area from northwest to southeast. (See Chautauqua.)
Map and text from History of Kansas, Noble Prentis, (Winfield: E.P. Greer. 1899)
Elk county was formed, along with Chautauqua county, when Howard County was split into two counties on March 25, 1875.
William G. Cutler's History of Kansas, first published in 1883, tells about early Elk County.
There is a section on Elk County in the book Kansas: a Cyclopedia Of State History by Frank Blackmar (1912).
The Special Collections of the Ablah Library at WSU contain historical images of Howard, & Moline.
The Kansas State Historical Society also has more historical data for Elk County online including a rich bibliography and lists of cemeteries, post offices, and newspapers.

Cities, Towns, & Villages of Elk County

    Town                Population  ZIP         Year  Elevation
    =================   ==========  =========   ====  =========
    Busby                                       1884     948
    Cave Springs                                1873    1095
    Elk Falls                  112  67345       1870     938
    Fiat                                                1121
    Grenola                    231  67346       1879    1117
    Howard                     808  67349       1870    1040
    Longton                    394  67352       1870     918
    Moline                     457  67353       1879    1055
    Oak Valley                                  1879     868
    Union Center                                1867
    Upola                                                990
    Western Park                                1885
Census Bureau Profile & Map

Special Places in Elk County

  • Frank Hobbs, the first teacher in Elk County, is buried two miles north of Howard along highway K-99
  • The Elk County Courthouse, just east of downtown Howard, was completed in 1908.
  • The old stone jail in Longton is still standing at the foot of the water tower; walk up and look inside at the primitive facilities for "crooks". It cost $413 when it was built in 1905.
  • The beauty of the dam and falls at Elk Falls can be viewed "up close" or from an antique iron bridge built in 1892.

Special Events in Elk County

  • Longton Free Fair
  • Howard's Elk River Festival - last Saturday in September; crafts, contests.
  • Elk County Fair in Howard - in July.
  • Annual Elk Falls open house - Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving.

Elk County School Systems


  • Grenola Public Library
    P. O. Box 131 / Grenola, KS 67346
  • Howard City Library
    P. O. Box 785 / Howard, KS 67349
  • Moline Public Library   (620) 647-3310
    107 N. Main / P. O. Box 96 / Moline, KS 67353


  • Grain Elevator Museum   (620) 358-3241 / Grenola - Sat & Sun 2-4
  • Benson Museum   (620) 374-2142 / Howard - Open by appointment
    Consists of several buildings including:
    • Country Schoolhouse & Teacher's Quarters * Authentic old school
    • Gragg Agricultural Bldg. * Farm Implements
  • Shaffer Museum / Moline


More Data About Elk County

Economic Development
  • Kansas County Profile Reports
    Statistical data from The Institute for Policy and Social Research, the University of Kansas
Health Data



  • Elk County Historical Society, Elk County ( 1979 )
  • Mann, Henrietta. A Brief Historical Sketch of the Settlements of Elk County (Pittsburg: Kansas State Teachers College 1940) unpublished thesis.
  • WPA The WPA Guide to 1930s Kansas ( Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. 1984 )

Elk County Offices

  • Elk County   (620) 374-2490
    P. O. Box 606 / Howard, KS 67349
  • Extension Service (620) 374-2174
    130 S Pennsylvania, Box 647, Howard KS, 67349-0647

For more about Elk County contact:

  • Longton Economic Development Committee
    P. O. Box 241 / Longton, KS 67352
  • Elk County Council on Aging   620-374-2403
    134 E. Washington #B, Howard, KS 67349
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Last updated on November 29, 2009 by COUNTIES@KSLIB.INFO
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