Salina ( /səlaɪnə/) is a city in and the county seat of Saline County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 47,707. Located in one of the world's largest wheat-producing areas, Salina is a regional trade center for north-central Kansas. Salina is also the principal city of the Salina, Kansas micropolitan statistical area.
Settlers led by journalist and lawyer William A. Phillips founded Salina in 1858. In the next two years, the territorial legislature chartered the town company, organized the surrounding area as Saline County, and named Salina the county seat. The westernmost town on the Smoky Hill Trail, Salina established itself as a trading post for westbound immigrants, prospectors bound for Pikes Peak, and area Native American tribes. The town's growth halted with the outbreak of the American Civil War when much of the male population left to join the U.S. Army. In 1862, local residents fended off Native American raiders only to fall victim to a second assault by bushwhackers later that year. Growth returned with the soldiers after the war, and, with the arrival of the Union Pacific Railroad in 1867, the town expanded rapidly. Salina was incorporated as a city in 1870.
The cattle trade arrived in 1872, transforming Salina into a cowtown. The trade brought the city further prosperity, but also a rowdy culture that agitated local residents, and thus relocated westward just two years later. During the 1870s, wheat became the dominant crop in the area, steam-powered flour mills were built, and agriculture became the engine of the local economy. In 1874, Salina resident E. R. Switzer introduced alfalfa to area farmers, and its cultivation began to spread throughout the state. By 1880, the city was an area industrial center with several mills, a carriage and wagon factory, and a farm implement works. Salina was also the location of the first garment factory of jeans maker Lee which opened in 1889. Over the following decade, three railroads were built through the city. The success of the wholesale and milling industries drove Salina's growth into the early 1900s such that, at one point, it was the third-largest producer in the state and the sixth-largest in the United States.