|Founded in 1867 |
Hays population – 20,368
Ellis County population – 27,247
Climate – Four distinct seasons with mild
and sunny days spring through fall.
Annual average temperature: 53.9
Annual average low temperature: 28.6 (January)
Annual average high temperature: 79.1 (July)
Average annual precipitation: 22.70"
Average annual snowfall: 19.64"
Altitude - 2004.6 feet above sea level
Latitude 38`- 52 minutes 34 seconds
Longitude 99` - 19 minutes 41 seconds
Welcome to Hays – Small town charm – Big Time Fun!
We invite you to experience the many opportunities that our charming community has to offer.
You’ll enjoy our small town friendliness whether you come to Hays for a family vacation, business
trip, sporting event, shopping or just passing through. We are proud of our colorful history as a wild
frontier town and we encourage you to explore our city so you can find out for yourself “Where history walked the streets”.
Many of the interesting and historic places to visit are free or charge only a small admission fee.
Be sure to visit our unique museums and tourist attractions to learn about our military past and Volga German heritage.
Discover the scenic beauty and natural history of western Kansas with an outing to Frontier Park, the Hays F.E.E.T trails
and the Sternberg Museum of Natural History.
The past comes alive everyday in Hays!
Wild Frontier Town
Hays City was founded in August of 1867 as the Union Pacific Railway Eastern Division worked its way west.
The town was named after Fort Hays, the army’s military post, which was located south of Big Creek.
The United States Army established Fort Hays (founded in 1865 as Fort Fletcher, renamed Fort Hays in 1866)
to provide protection for settlers and railroad workers from Indian resistance. Fort Hays was named in honor of
General Alexander Hays, who was a Union general, and had been killed during the Civil War in 1864 at the
Battle of the Wilderness. Because many of the first citizens of the rapidly growing town were railroad workers,
desperados and other notorious characters, the early days of Hays City were wild and dangerous.
The soldiers from nearby Fort Hays also created a rowdy atmosphere when they came to town because
many of the first businesses in Hays City were saloons, brothels, gambling houses, dance halls or other
liquor establishments. Skirmishes with some of the local “rough” citizens and the soldiers only added to
the reputation as a lawless and tough “end of the tracks” town.
During several months of 1869 William Butler Hickok served as the acting sheriff after several incidents
prompted the citizens to form a vigilante committee. “Wild Bill” Hickok, as he became known, apparently
was not elected, but served at the will of the vigilante committee. The vigilante period from July of 1868 to
December of 1869 was marked by 15 homicides. The lawlessness, bloodshed and feuds that occurred during
the time when General George A. Custer and his wife were encamped near Fort Hays prompted Elizabeth Custer
to comment, “ There was enough desperate history in that little town in one summer to make a whole library of dime novels”.
Between August of 1867 and 1873 there were over 30 murders in and around Hays City. The reputation as one of the
most violent towns on the Kansas frontier quickly spread.
Many of the buildings from Hays City’s wild past are gone, but today visitors can step back in time and relive the history
of downtown Hays through a self guided walking tour. Twenty-five bronze plaques mark the route of where the famous and
other notorious characters lived and walked the streets of old Hays City.
For more information about Hays, Kansas call 1-800-569-4505 or go to www.haysusa.net
Hays Convention & Visitors Bureau
Hays, KS 67601