Rice County is located in middle of Kansas; it was named in memory of Samuel Allen Rice, Brigadier-General, United States volunteers, killed April 30, 1864, at Jenkins Ferry, Arkansas. The population of Rice County is 10,083 including the nine incorporated cities. They range in size from Lyons at 3,739 to Frederick on the north side of the county with a population of 18. It is listed as the second smallest incorporated city in the state of Kansas. The other towns are Alden, Bushton, Chase, Geneseo, Little River, Raymond and Sterling.
Although agriculture plays a big part of the economy in the county, business is diversified. There are five feedlots along with several large farming operations. Education employees the most number of people with five unified school districts and Sterling College. JACAM Chemicals with a manufacturing plant between Sterling and Lyons and world headquarters in Sterling is a fast growing company serving the oil field industry and beyond. Salt plays a major role in Rice County with two salt facilities. Central Salt, Lyons mine is a mining company distributing rock salt and packaged salt. North American Salt, a subsidiary of Compass Minerals is a mechanical evaporation and packaging plant. There are many other thriving industries including Kansas Ethanol, KMW, Cal-Maine Foods, Lyons Manufacturing, and United Industries.
The Santa Fe National Historic Trail runs east to west through Rice County along Highway 56. Throughout the years, artifacts left by both Native Americans and pioneers have been found along the trail. These artifacts are being preserved and exhibited at the Coronado Quivira Museum in Lyons. The Santa Fe Trail’s history through Rice County has been written in a number of books and articles.
Rice County is governed by three commissioners. Their meetings are held every Monday morning (except for Federal holidays) in the historic Rice County Courthouse in the downtown square of Lyons.