Colby, Kansas

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Colby is the most populous city in and the county seat of Thomas County, Kansas, United States.[3] Its population was 5,450 as of the 2000 census.



In 1882, a post office was established near the center of Thomas County. Area homesteaders lived under harsh conditions in sod houses, creating demand for a town to provide lumber and other provisions to incoming settlers. J.R. Colby, a local land assessor and preacher, obtained a patent to establish the town in April 1884, and land was acquired for the town site three miles north of the post office in March 1885. The following month, the Kansas Secretary of State issued the Town Charter. Kansas Gov. John Martin named Colby the county seat in 1885, and the city was incorporated in 1886. The Union Pacific Railroad reached the city in 1887, and the Rock Island Railroad followed the next year.

Interstate 70 reached Colby in 1965, stimulating the growth of a local hospitality industry.[4]


Colby is located at 39°23′32″N 101°02′51″W / 39.392093°N 101.047532°W / 39.392093; -101.047532 (39.392093, -101.047532) at an elevation of 3,159 feet (963 m).[2][5] It lies on the south side of Prairie Dog Creek, a tributary of the Republican River, in the High Plains region of the Great Plains. A small tributary of the creek flows northeast through the town.[6] Located at the intersection of Interstate 70 and K-25 in northwest Kansas, Colby is approximately 212 miles (342 km) east-southeast of Denver, 232 miles (374 km) northwest of Wichita, and 347 miles (558 km) west of Kansas City.[7] According to the United States Census Bureau, Colby has a total area of 3.3 square miles (8.7 km2), all of it land.

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