Aerial view over downtown city center of Atchison Kansas in mid morning light

Atchison, Kansas

Atchison is a city on the Missouri River in the county of Atchison, KansasUnited States. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.29 square miles, of which 7.83 square miles is land and 0.46 square miles is water. It is one of the most historically significant cities in the state, with many interesting sights to see for both visitors and locals.

History Of Atchison

The Kanza Indians initially lived in the area that is now known as Atchison, which is located in northern Kansas on the Missouri River. Lewis and Clark saw their abandoned settlement as they explored the region on July 4, 1804, and celebrated the first Independence Day in the American West. The Kansas Territory was established fifty years after Lewis and Clark's journey, and Atchison was one of its earliest communities. On July 20, 1854, men from Platte City, Missouri, crossed the Missouri River and staked out a townsite named after Missouri senator David Rice Atchison. On August 30, 1855, the Territorial Legislature established Atchison as a town, and on February 12, 1858, it was incorporated as a city. 

Atchison quickly rose to prominence as a major commercial hub, and the city flourished because it possessed one of the greatest steamboat landings on the Missouri River, wagon roads to the West, and was several miles closer to Denver than other river cities. Thousands of Mormons were encouraged to cross the river and settle in Atchison during the great Mormon exodus westward. These early connections aided in establishing Atchison's commercial roots, allowing the city to prosper when other river towns withered. Atchison's spectacular heyday is shown through its impressive Victorian-era buildings and five museums that display its rich history, railroad heritage, Victorian past, art, and Amelia Earhart legacy.


Atchison averages 39 inches of rain and 17 inches of snow per year. In Atchison, September, May, and June are the most pleasant months, while January and December are the least pleasant. During May, the weather is most likely to be nice, with average temperatures ranging from 20 to 25 degrees Celsius.

Population And Economy Of Atchison

Atchison, Kansas
View of the Commercial Street Mall area of downtown Atchison.

According to the most recent US Census projections, the current population of Atchison, Kansas, is 10,284 people. Atchison's peak population was in 2010 at 11,021, and it was the 2,757th biggest city in the United States; it is presently the 2,981st largest city in the United States since the population dropped by 4.9%. Atchison's ethnic demographics are 86.6 % White, 7.6 % Two or more races, 3.9 % Black, 0.9 % Other, 0.5 % American Indian, and 0.5 % Asian. Furthermore, 4.0 % of the population identifies as Hispanic. In Atchison, 18.2 % of residents earn less than the poverty line, with 17.4 % of children living in poverty. 13.4 % of families in Atchison are poor, while the median family income is $46,465.

Attractions In Atchison

Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum 

The Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum is housed within Amelia Earhart's birthplace and childhood home, which is located on a cliff overlooking the Missouri River, as well as the bridge dedicated in her honor. Amelia's grandfather built the residence in the 1860s in the Gothic Revival style, and it was designated a National Historic Site in 1971. Amelia Earhart's personal artifacts, family memorabilia, period furnishings, and a small gift store are available to visitors.

International Forest Of Friendship

The International Forest of Friendship was established by The Ninety-Nines, an international women pilots association, and the City of Atchison as a bicentennial project. A bronze life-size statue of Amelia Earhart overlooks the forest, which stands as a growing, living homage to those involved in space and aviation exploration. Plaques placed in the International Forest of Friendship trail show the names of honorees from all fifty states and over thirty-five countries. The Astronaut's Memorial also commemorates ten astronauts who lost their lives while exploring space.

St. Benedict Abbey

St. Benedict Abbey is a monastic community of the Order of Saint Benedict. The abbey was founded in 1857 to provide education to the children of German immigrants in Kansas Territory. Nowadays, St. Benedict's Abbey serves as the local headquarters of the Catholic Order of St. Benedict. The current St. Benedict's Abbey was built in 1928 to house the monks who serve as administrators and professors at Benedictine College, which was formed in 1971 after the merging of Mount St. Scholastica College for Women and St. Benedict's College.

Atchison County Historical Society Museum

Inside the Santa Fe Depot lies the Atchison County Historical Society Museum. Visitors to the museum may follow the past of this historic Kansas region via displays that show the transformation of Atchison from a little bend in the Missouri River into a thriving commercial center for railways, wagon trains going for the West, and steamboats. It houses a unique gun collection dating back to the American Revolution, exhibitions about the Lewis and Clark expedition and Amelia Earhart.

Muchnic Art Gallery

In one of the city's most exquisite Victorian houses, the Muchnic Art Gallery offers a venue for locals and tourists alike to discover the culture, history, and art in Atchison, Kansas. 

Atchison, Kansas, is one of the most historically significant cities in the state, offering many exciting things to see. From Amelia Earhart's Birthplace Museum to the Muchnic Art Gallery, there is something for everyone here.

  1. Home
  2. Places
  3. Cities
  4. Atchison, Kansas

More in Places