Cottonwood Falls is the largest city and county seat of Chase County, Kansas. The population was 966 at the 2000 census, and it was estimated to be in the year . It is part of the Emporia Micropolitan Statistical Area.
The first settlement in the area of Cottonwood Falls was in 1854, when an Indian trader named Seth Hayes founded a cattle ranch on the Cottonwood River close to the mouth of Diamond Spring Creek. The area around the town was organized as Chase County in 1859. In 1873 the city's French Renaissance style city hall was built; at roughly the same time, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway reached Cottonwood Falls. Through the late 19th and early 20th centuries the area around the city was mainly divided into farms and cattle ranches.
In 1931, Transcontinental & Western Air Flight 599 crashed near Cottonwood Falls, killing all eight on board, including Notre Dame University football coach Knute Rockne. A monument to the crash is located on private property ten miles south of the town.
Cottonwood Falls's population was estimated to be in the year , .
As of the census of 2000, there were 966 people, 375 households, and 227 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,674.9 people per square mile (643.1/km²). There were 427 housing units at an average density of 740.3/sq mi (284.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.93% White, 2.38% African American, 1.14% Native American, 0.21% Asian, 0.83% from other races, and 0.52% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.38% of the population.
There were 375 households out of which 28.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.2% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.2% were non-families. 34.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the city the population was spread out with 23.2% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 29.6% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 23.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 91.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $28,947, and the median income for a family was $37,986. Males had a median income of $27,639 versus $19,167 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,166. About 8.8% of families and 11.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.0% of those under age 18 and 8.6% of those age 65 or over.