About This Place
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. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 12,415.
The name of this city is not pronounced like the nearby state of Arkansas, but rather as /ɑrkænzəs/ (the final "s" is pronounced). Over the years there has been much confusion about the regional pronunciation of "Arkansas," which locals render as /ɑrkænzəs/ rather than /ɑrkənsɔː/. 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.
In 1601, New Mexico Governor Juan de Oñate 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. (See Deer Creek/Bryson Paddock Sites)