It All Started with a Steamboat
On April 27, 1855, the Cincinnati and Kansas Land Company left Cincinnati, Ohio, on the steamboat Hartford, bound for central Kansas. The plan was to head west via the Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, and Kansas rivers and found a community in Kansas Territory.
New York investors in the land company had insisted on the name, Manhattan, for the new town. Sandbars grounded the Hartford near present-day Manhattan site where a new town of Boston was being established. The Bostonians liked the new arrivals, convinced them to stay and re-named the town Manhattan.
With Manhattan, New York, known as “The Big Apple,” it was natural for Manhattan, Kansas, to become known as “The Little Apple®.” Manhattan, Kansas was first called The Little Apple® as early as 1977.