Jump to Navigation

Trego County, Kansas

Butterfield Overland Dispatch and the Smoky Hills Trail both ran through Trego County, Kansas.

Trego County, Kansas, organized in 1879, was named after Edgar P. Trego. Trego, a captain, was killed in the Civil War. When the county was organized, WaKeeney was established as the temporary county seat. WaKeeney won the subsequent election and became the permanent county seat. Butterfield Overland Dispatch and the Smoky Hills Trail passed through the county. John C. Fremont traveled through the county in the 1840s.

In 1878 the Cheyenne Indians hunted in the territory where Trego County was located. The people of Trego County established the Trego Home Guards as security. Fort Downer was established in the 1860s. It was first a stage station, but became a military post for a short time in 1867-1868. Camp Ogallah, near WaKeeney, was established also in the 1860s to protect railroad workers.

In 1879 there was a large celebration for the Fourth of July, in which the governor of the state was present at. Population was flourished that year, as a great number of people arrived which allowed for the organization of the county. 

 In the county seat of WaKeeney the economy prospered at first, but drought caused crops to fail. Settlers began to leave and the population was in decline by the beginning of the 1880s.

At the beginning of the 20th century, during 1902-1903, there was an excitement when it was believed that had been found, this excitement was short-lived however, and gold was not found.

During World War II, a U.S. Navy ship was named U. S. S. Trego, and commissioned December 21, 1944, and named for this county in Kansas.

Cedar Bluff Reservoir was built along the Smoky Hill River in 1949.

Trego County properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places include the Stradal House, built for John and Agnes Stradal. This Lustron house was among those built to solve the housing problems after World War II.

Individuals of note from Trego County include Mela Meisner Lindsay. Lindsay is author of The White Lamb, and several other books that relate true accounts of her life and hardships as a young girl in the Russian Volga River area, and the difficulties of her migration of Trego County.

Quick Facts

Date Established: February 26, 1867
Date Organized: June 21, 1879
County Seat: WaKeeney
Kansas Region: Northwest
Physiographic Region: High Plains and Smoky Hills
Scenic Byway: Smoky Valley
State Park: Cedar Bluff State Park
Courthouse: June 2, 1888


1860 - Establishments of Fort Downer and Camp Ogallah.
1867 - Trego County is established.
1878 - Indian scare, and the formation of the Trego Home Guards.
1879 - Trego County is organized. 

More on Trego County


Entry: Trego County, Kansas

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: February 2010

Date Modified: August 2023

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.