Arkansas City, Kansas

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Arkansas City is a city situated at the confluence of the Arkansas and Walnut rivers in the southwestern part of Cowley County, located in south-central Kansas, in the central United States. The population was 11,963 at the 2000 census. It is the second most populous city of Cowley County.

The name of this city is not pronounced like the nearby state of Arkansas, but rather as /ɑrˈkænzəs/ (the final "s" is pronounced). Over the years there has been much confusion about the regional pronunciation of "Arkansas," which locals render as /ɑrˈkænzəs/ rather than /ˈɑrkənsɔː/.[3] Throughout much of Kansas, residents use this alternate pronunciation when referring to the Arkansas River, as well as Arkansas Street in the city of Wichita. Very few people from other states, and even much less from the state of Arkansas, use or have ever heard the anglicized pronunciation. Because of this, and for the sake of brevity, Arkansas City is most often referred to as simply Ark City.

Contents

History

in 1601, New Mexico Governor Juan de Onate led an expedition across the Great Plains and found a large settlement of Indians he called Rayados. The most likely location for the Rayado settlement was along the Walnut River in the eastern part of Arkansas City. Extensive remains of Indian settlements have been found along six miles of the Walnut River. The Rayados were the ancestors of the Indians later called Wichita. Wichita settlements from the 18th century are also found a few miles south of Arkansas City on the west bank of the Arkansas River.[4] (See Deer Creek/Bryson Paddock Sites)

White settlers first congregated in the area where Arkansas City now stands in the 1860s. The natives referred to the place as "Nichonka," which roughly translates as "place between the waters" — a reference to the confluence of the Arkansas and Walnut rivers.

Arkansas City celebrated its centennial in 1961, although settlers supposedly established a town in around 1870. They had difficulty choosing a name; at first they hoped to flatter U.S. Postmaster General John A. J. Creswell (and win a highly-sought-after post office) by naming the town Cresswell in his honor. Unfortunately, numerous other cities had already taken that tack. Next the town fathers, swooning with high expectations for their nascent community, briefly contemplated naming the city Delphi. Walnut City was considered and discarded. Finally, Arkansas City was chosen as the official name of the town.

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