Salina's history dates back to 1856 when a colony, organized and led by Senator Preston B. Plum, located a settlement on the Saline River near the present site of the city. It was not until 1858, however, that the townsite was established by William A. Phillips and his party, which included a number of original settlers.
In the early years, Salina structurally formed along the banks of the Smoky Hill River. A living was derived by hunting and trading with the Indians and immigrants to the west. Robes and skins secured from the Indians were hauled to Fort Leavenworth and sold.
Before the coming of the railroad in 1867, the settlement consisted of only a few families. By 1870, the population had grown to 1,200 and Salina became a state designated city of the third class.
The early 1900s saw Salina enjoy growth and expansion. This growth is primarily attributed to the wholesale and milling industries. At one point, Salina was the third-largest producer in the state and sixth-largest in the nation.
Population growth in the 1950s was phenomenal (65 percent). This expansion was closely tied to the re-opening of the Smoky Hill Air Force Base in 1951 (the name was eventually changed to Schilling Air Force Base). However, in 1965, the Department of Defense brought an abrupt end to the "golden era" when it closed the base.
More than 30 years later, Salina is once again enjoying success. A much more diverse economy ensures greater economic stability. The community is well known for celebrating its own heritage and embracing those of others. There is little doubt that history is in the making for Salina!