The first recorded expedition into what is now Atchison County was led by M. de Bourgmont in 1724 to establish trade relations with the Indians of the Platte River region. During the winter of 1812 Major Stephen H. Long established the first military outpost in Kansas at Cow Island in the Missouri River six miles South of Atchison.
The Atchison, Topeka, and Sante Fe Railroad was founded at Atchison, and by the end of 1872 the road had progressed to Western Kansas. As Atchison developed into an important railroad center the city developed as a manufacturing and distribution center.
1923 Amelia Earhart, a native of Atchison, became the first woman to be granted a pilot's license by the National Aeronautic Association.
1924 The handkerchief-dress craze hit Kansas. At Atchison over 250 dozen red and blue bandanas were sold to women who made dresses of them.