Skip to main content



Iola’s Beginning

In 1858, the legislature appointed Humboldt, Kansas, as the seat of Allen County. But for political and geographical reasons, county residents expressed large dissatisfaction over this decision. As a result, many of the residents discussed creating a new town with the intention of stealing away the county seat. 

In early 1859, a large group of county citizens gathered to discuss plans for the new town. They bought the claims on two quarter sections, which they then had surveyed into lots. People proposed several town names, but votes ultimately decided the name of Iola in tribute of Iola Colborn--the wife of Mr. Josiah F. Colborn who built the first frame-style home in the area and who had owned part of the purchased claims. 


Iola’s Growth 

In 1859, the town experienced a lot of firsts--the first Iola town residents (Josiah and Iola Colborn), the first birth (Luella Colborn), the first church service, the first two stores, the first hotel and the first post office. A dry goods store, grocery store, clothing store and drug store soon followed in the spring and summer of 1860. But severe drought slowed improvements in late 1860, and when war broke out in 1861, almost every able-bodied man enlisted in the army. War violence and unrest brought improvements to a halt as people struggled to survive. 

But when the war ended in 1865 and men returned home, life turned upward again. In May 1865, Iola was finally voted as the Allen County seat. The town improved steadily through 1870 when it was incorporated as a city. But local and national misfortunes stagnated the town for the next twenty-five years until natural gas was discovered in 1895. Growth surged in population and expansion. In just nine years, from 1895 to 1904, Iola exploded from a population of 1,567 to over 11,000. 

This rapid growth brought many of the historic homes and buildings that still stand today. The town built a water plant and an electric generation plant. It paved its streets, built schools and increased in prosperity. Over time, however, the natural gas started running out. Industries like the smelters left for richer opportunities. 

During the Depression-era New Deal projects, Iola received updated improvements. The town received the Riverside Park complex, new schools, new businesses and homes, and upgraded streets and utilities. After World War 2, Iola further expanded its utilities, improved its water purification system, repaved streets, and built additional businesses and homes, a new hospital, and the National Guard Armory. 

Iola Today

Since the 1970’s and 1980’s, Iola’s industry has fluctuated. Some of its initial companies have faced decline, while other new companies have entered the community, such as Gates Rubber Company, Tramec LLC and Russell Stover’s. 

In 2011, serious floods swept through Southeast Kansas and wiped out Iola’s southern section. This caused a significant decrease in population. As of the 2018 census, Iola’s population sits at 5,312. 

Despite changes over the years, Iola remains a town that strives toward improvement. It hosts some of best-maintained downtown buildings of Southeast Kansas, while its elaborate trails system, the Bowlus Fine Arts Center, and community events like Farm City Days work to draw visitors to the area. Iola looks forward to a future with additional improvements and opportunities for its community.

Building our community since 1894

  • Allen County Regional Hospital
    Allen County Regional Hospital
  • The New Klein Lumber
    The New Klein Lumber
  • CASA
  • Access Realty
  • General Repair & Supply
  • Wingert Billboards
  • Mentzer Family Farm
    Mentzer Family Farm
  • Thrive Allen County
    Thrive Allen County
  • Cox Communications
    Cox Communications
  • Peerless
  • Russell Stover
    Russell Stover
  • TLC Garden Center
    TLC Garden Center
  • Names and Numbers
    Names and Numbers
  • Audacious Boutique
    Audacious Boutique
  • Sterling Six Cinema
    Sterling Six Cinema
  • April Kroenke Photography
    April Kroenke Photography
  • Alpha Dog Supply
    Alpha Dog Supply
  • Community National
  • Lou's
  • The Protein Place
  • T Mobile
    T Mobile
  • SEK Mental Health
    SEK Mental Health
  • Diversified INC
    Diversified INC
  • Crown Realty
  • United Tire Recyclers
    United Tire Recyclers
  • Farm Bureau-Jason Dreher
    Farm Bureau-Jason Dreher
  • Quality Automotive
    Quality Automotive
  • Rural Development Group
    Rural Development Group
  • Dr. Robert N Smith O.D,
    Dr. Robert N Smith O.D,
  • Johnson Schowengerdt PA
    Johnson Schowengerdt PA
  • Shaughnesssy Construction
    Shaughnesssy Construction

    Construction Company specializing in building homes.

  • Fillmore Coffee House & Plant Cafe
    Fillmore Coffee House & Plant Cafe
  • Since opening in 1985, 37 years here in Iola, our only purpose has been to provide freshly cooked Asian Cuisine and the warmest service to our customers and community. The owner is the Chef with 43 years experience since he learned how to cook in his family friend's European fine Chinese restaurant. Chef believes good food keeps the body in balance and works holistically to serve the health and wellness of each customer by consistently seeking to improve the dishes while serving home-made fresh and healthy authentic Asian foods. Visit China Palace soon!

  • C & J Mowing
    C & J Mowing

    Locally owned and operated residential and commercial lawn care service. Call today to schedule your home or business. (620)228-4622

  • Iola Public Library
    Iola Public Library
  • Allen County Commissioners
    Allen County Commissioners
  • Allen County Country Club
    Allen County Country Club
  • Allen County Fair Association
    Allen County Fair Association
  • Allen County Farm Bureau Association
    Allen County Farm Bureau Association
  • Capper Jewelry
    Capper Jewelry
  • Dale's Sheet Metal
    Dale's Sheet Metal
  • Funtastic Party Rentals
    Funtastic Party Rentals
  • Graceland Portable Buildings
    Graceland Portable Buildings
  • In Step Dance Academy
    In Step Dance Academy
  • Infinity Real Estate
    Infinity Real Estate
  • CDL Electric
    CDL Electric
  • Jock's Nitch
    Jock's Nitch
  • Jo's Men's Grooming
    Jo's Men's Grooming
  • Max Grundy Designs
    Max Grundy Designs
  • O'Shaughnessy Liquor
    O'Shaughnessy Liquor
  • HR Block
    HR Block
  • SEK Problem Gambling Task Force
    SEK Problem Gambling Task Force
  • Iola RV Park & Storage
    Iola RV Park & Storage
  • The Warehouse
    The Warehouse
  • The Wellness Studio
    The Wellness Studio
  • US Cellular
    US Cellular
  • Westco
  • Whisked Away Home Bakery
    Whisked Away Home Bakery
  • Yates Center Health & Rehab
    Yates Center Health & Rehab
  • The mission of the Pregnancy Resource Center is to offer life-affirming support through education and services to the communities of Southeast Kansas.

    We offer:
    HELP to those involved in a planned or unplanned pregnancy;

    HOPE with education on subjects that affect teens and young adults;

    HEALING to those who have made negative choices by sharing the positive things they can do to change their future.

    PRCSEK is committed to assisting pregnant women to carry their babies to term by providing emotional support and practical assistance.

    PRCSEK reaches out to the families who need a helping hand with special needs children, the rebellious child, and teens growing up thru life changes.

    Single and married parents will receive emotional support and instruction for the everyday living of their families and the community. Therefore, they can face the future with hope and plan constructively for themselves and their children.

    PRCSEK's goal is to touch lives with family building blocks.

    Location Directions
    1 South Jefferson Ave
    Iola, KS 66749

    Hours of Operation
    M-W-F: 9 AM - 12 PM
    Tues: 3 PM - 7PM

  • As a part of K-State Research and Extension, Southwind District programs present educational information and programming related to agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, 4-H youth development, and community vitality.

    We serve the people of Allen, Bourbon, Neosho and Woodson Counties and have offices in each of those counties.

    Our philosophy is to help people help themselves by taking university knowledge to where people live, work, and play. We work at being resonsive to the needs of the people by focusing our resources on providing quality information, education, and problem-solving for real concern. The information we provide is research-based and unbiased.

    Our Mission...

    "We are dedicated to a safe, sustainable, competitive food and fiber system and to strong, healthy communities, families and youth through integrated research, analysis and education."

    Our Vision...

    K-State Research and Extension is committed to expanding human capacity by delivering educational programs and technical information that result in improved leadership skills in the areas of communication, group dynamics, conflict resolution, issue analysis, and strategic planning that can enhance the economic viability and quality of life in communities.

  • O'Shaughnessy Liquor, LLC
    O'Shaughnessy Liquor, LLC
  • KJ Electrical Contracting LLC
    KJ Electrical Contracting LLC
  • Pachyy
  • Family owned and operated , authentic mexican restaurant

© 2023 Iola Area Chamber of Commerce

Powered by Firespring