Kanopolis, Kansas was incorporated on January 6, 1887 on the former site of Fort Harker, an important military outpost on the Smoky Hill Trail.
Fort Harker was an active military post from 1866 to 1872. It was shut down in 1872 after the railroad reached Denver and hostile Indian attackes decreased in the area. In 1870 the Department of Interior was tasked with selling the Fort Harker Military Reservation which comprised a total of 10,240 acres of land. A Dr. Hodge purchased the land but then sold it to Colonel Henry Johnson for $4,177.50. Then in 1885 a land syndicate based in Ohio purchased 4,740 acres of the land including the main buildings of Fort Harker for $71,000 from Colonel Johnson.
With grand plans for the new town they were going to establish, the land syndicate formed the Kanopolis Land Company and began plans for what they envisioned would become one of the largest cities in the relatively new state of Kansas. The name Kanopolis comes from combining “Kansas” and “Metropolis”. Envisioned by the developers as becoming a large city and possibly even the future Kansas State Capitol, they laid out the town on a grand scale with plans to accommodate a population of 150,000.