Cottonwood River (Kansas)

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Cottonwood River
1886 Clements Stone Arch Bridge over Cottonwood River near Clements (2006)
Country United States
State Kansas
Region Flint Hills
Part of Neosho River
 - location West of Marion, Kansas
 - elevation 1,056 ft (322 m)
 - coordinates 38°21′25″N 097°04′14″W / 38.35694°N 97.07056°W / 38.35694; -97.07056 [1]
Mouth Neosho River
 - location East of Emporia, Kansas
 - elevation 322 ft (98 m) [1]
 - coordinates 38°23′09″N 096°03′23″W / 38.38583°N 96.05639°W / 38.38583; -96.05639Coordinates: 38°23′09″N 096°03′23″W / 38.38583°N 96.05639°W / 38.38583; -96.05639 [1]
Basin 1,912 sq mi (4,952 km2) [2]
Discharge for Neosho Rapids
 - average 1,239 cu ft/s (35 m3/s) [3]

Cottonwood River is one of the principal tributaries of the Neosho River in central Kansas of the United States.[4]


The river begins near the west line of Marion County as two tributaries, the North Cottonwood River and the South Cottonwood River. They both start within 2 miles of each other, and within a few miles northwest of Lehigh.[5]

The North Cottonwood starts near the west line of Marion County,[5] crosses into McPherson County and roughly parallels the county line northward for 5 miles, then crosses back into Marion County.[6] It flows through Durham then into the Marion Reservoir.[5]

The South Cottonwood also starts near the west line of Marion County, flows southward about 1 mile west of Lehigh, then flows eastward about 2 miles south of Hillsboro, then northeast towards the lower side of the Marion Reservoir.[5]

The North and South Cottonwood join about 1 mile southeast of the Marion Reservoir to become the North Fork Cottonwood River, before flowing through the city of Marion.[5] The river flows southeast to Florence, then eastward towards Chase County.[7] In Chase County, it flows northeast through Cedar Point then near Clements and Elmdale. It then flows eastward through Strong City, Cottonwood Falls.[7]

The South Fork Cottonwood River starts south of Matfield Green, then flows northward along the east side of Matfield Green and Bazaar. It merges with the North Fork Cottonwood River about 3 miles east of Cottonwood Falls[7] then flows eastward near Saffordville and across into Lyon County near Plymouth, Kansas, then along the south edge of Emporia. It flows into the Neosho River about 5 miles east of Emporia.[8]


In 1806, Zebulon Pike led the Pike expedition westward from St Louis, Missouri, of which part of their journey followed the Cottonwood River through Marion County near the current towns of Florence, Marion, Durham.[9]

Cities and towns along the river[edit]



The following lakes are located in the Cottonwood River drainage basin:


The following bridges over the Cottonwood River are on the National Register of Historic Places list:


See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Cottonwood River current depth and history