The first settlers arriving in southwestern Kansas were greeted by a vast expanse of prairie inhabited by abundant herds of buffalo and antelope. The herds have disappeared and much of the open blue stem prairie has been plowed and planted to resemble similar fields to the east. Farmers and townspeople have adapted to the prairie, planted trees, and made it their home.
Minneola is a progressive community with visionary leaders, supported by dedicated people who share those visions—all working for that “perfect place” to live and enjoy their families. They are proud to live where buffalo once roamed and the prairie spreads to the horizon. They care for the land and care for each other. Minneola is a community that modern day settlers are proud to call home.
With the building of the Rock Island Railroad and with many dedicated citizens, towns in this area were beginning to develop. On Jan. 19, 1888, the first passenger train rumbled through the city of Minneola. Located a short distance east of the present city of Minneola, Appleton was established in the county in 1885. However, due to the railroad bypassing the city, it had to concede to the thriving prairie town of Minneola. This city was chartered July 5, 1887 and incorporated in 1909. The name was chosen in honor of the president of the Minneola Town Company. One of his daughters was named “Minne” and the other was “Ola”. Popular opinion is that these two names were used to give the newly chartered town site its permanent name. Minneola is uniquely located where two major highways--283 and 54—intersect. Dodge City, known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” is only twenty miles to the north. The current population is 745 with our trade center being generally north Clark County and southern Ford. Income is mainly derived from farming, ranching, and limited oil and gas resources.
The early industrial venture was the American Sugar Company’s Sugar Mill in 1889, which stayed in operation for only six weeks. A bank was operated by Wendling & Cross. Other enterprises included a blacksmith shop, general store, town physician, real estate business, livery stable, meat market, a hardware store, and a hotel owned by Fred Parrett.
For the next ten years drought and hot, searing winds turned the community into a disaster area; however, at the turn of the century, economic conditions began to improve. In 1903, a good wheat crop with 25 bushel to the acre was achieved and the town began to prosper. Power lines were finished, sidewalks and streetlights were erected and a new sewer system with disposal plant was completed. City streets were all hard-surfaced and street lighting was much improved. Efficiency in the water system received a boost with the construction of the new water well south of the city along with new water lines. One of the greatest assets, bringing much pleasure to the entire community, was theswimming pool, which opened in 1969.
Due to lack of public housing, the Minneola Housing Authority was formed. Appleton Plaza, a 12- unit apartment complex, Wheatland Plaza containing two apartment complexes and the Advance Plaza with assisted living conveniences were completed. Grant funds helped build the senior center, Civic Connection, containing the kitchen, which sends meals to Ashland, Kismet and Plains. Five days a week over 130 meals each day are served to local and area towns.