Cowley County (county code CL) is a county located in the U.S. state of Kansas. As of the 2010 census, the county population was 36,311. Its county seat is Winfield, and its most populous city is Arkansas City.
For millennia, the land now known as Kansas was inhabited by Native Americans. It was visited by the explorer DeSoto in 1537, In 1803, most of modern Kansas was secured by the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1854, the Kansas Territory was organized, then in 1861 Kansas became the 34th U.S. state.
Cowley County was officially organized as a county, but reserved for the Osage Indians, by the Kansas Legislature in March 1867, originally named Hunter County for Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter (1809–1887), a Virginia Representative and Senator to Congress and Speaker of the House in the twenty-sixth Congress. In 1870, the county was renamed for Matthew Cowley, First Lieutenant in Company I, 9th Kansas Cavalry, who died at Little Rock, Arkansas, on October 7, 1864. Officially opened for settlement July 15, 1870, there was a lengthy and bitter disagreement between the towns of Winfield and Cresswell (the town now named Arkansas City) over the possession of the county seat of government. Finally settled after two special elections and numerous petitions to the Governor and Legislature, Winfield was determined to be the county seat and a courthouse was constructed in 1873 at a cost of $11,500.
In 2010, the Keystone-Cushing Pipeline (Phase II) was constructed north to south through Cowley County, with much controversy over tax exemption and environmental concerns (if a leak ever occurs). A pumping station named Rock was built.