Founded in 1858, Salina was established as an early trading post. The town experienced rapid growth with the arrival of Kansas Pacific Railway in 1867 and was incorporated as a city in 1870. By 1880 the city was an industrial center and in 1889, Lee opened the first factory for making jeans in Salina. Early in the 1900s Salina’s wholesale and industries grew so rapidly that at one point it was the third-largest producer in Kansas and sixth largest in the U.S.
The establishment of a military base southwest of the city during World War II, created additional economic booms in the 1940-60s. After the base was permanently closed in 1965, the area became what is now the Salina Municipal Airport as well as an industrial park and has led to substantial development making Salina the center for trade, transportation and industry it is today.
Salina Public Schools (USD 305) operates 12 schools in Saline County including eight elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools. There are also four private schools in Salina.
Post-graduate education is offered at four area institutions; Brown Mackie College, Kansas State University – Salina, Kansas Wesleyan University and Salina Area Technical College.
Salina is home to two hospitals; Salina Regional Health Center, a 204-bed general medical and surgical center (which is also the second largest employer in the city) and Salina Surgical hospital, a specialized surgical facility.