Although the town's growth was slow, A. W. Rumsey's mercantile store became a trading center for ranchers in the area, for traders, and for immigrants on their way west. Most of the inhabitants lived in dugouts or sod houses and burned "prairie coal" (buffalo or cow ships) for fuel. The hazards of living included prairie fires, gray wolves, rattlesnakes, grasshoppers and a river with no bridge.
Recreation was limited but the Fourth of July and Christmas were celebrated with basket dinners and dances. Kiowa lost its chance to be a railroad town when the townsite owners refused to donate 80 acres to railroad officials for a depot and trackage and to allow them a 50-50 division of the townsite. With 5,000 acres purchased from W. E. Campbell, a rancher who owned 48,000 acres on the southern borders of Barber and Harper counties, a new hastily formed town company laid out a townsite four and a half miles southeast of the original village.
Railroad officials were granted 40 acres for a depot and stockyards in what was known as New Kiowa. It was incorporated in 1884 and businesses began moving from the old town. Cattle raising was the main industry in the region. Ranchers with huge acreage and thousands of cattle, organized into cattle pools for the sake of economy, better protection of the herds, and the opportunity to upgrade them. A pool captain supervised the riders of all ranchers in the pool, calves were branded according to the brand of the cow, and the business, was transacted by a vote of members of the pool as in a joint stock company.
Some Cherokee Outlet cattlemen formed the Cherokee Strip Livestock association to keep trespassing cattle off of their ranges which were rented from the Cherokee Indian Nation. On August 4, l885, the Southern Kansas Railroad reached New Kiowa and the town immediately became a major shipping point, handling thousands of cattle from the Cherokee Outlet , Texas and New Mexico. The Southern Kansas became the property of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad on October 1, 1887.
Large shipments of cattle from New Kiowa ended, however, when President Harrison ordered all cattle removed from the Cherokee Outlet by Dec. l, l890, preparatory to opening the Oklahoma lands for settlement. Altogether, there were 10 openings and in 1893, Kiowa was one of the starting points for the biggest land run into the Cherokee Outlet. On September 15, l890, with Old Kiowa largely abandoned, a petition was granted to change the name of New Kiowa to just Kiowa.
Kiowa is located at 37°1'3N, 98°29'5W (37.017520, -98.484721). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.7 km² (1.1 mi²), all land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,055 people, 467 households, and 292 families residing in the city. The population density was 384.3/km² (995.3/mi²). There were 569 housing units at an average density of 207.3/km² (536.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.83% White, 0.28% African American, 1.23% Native American, 1.71% from other races, and 0.95% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.27% of the population.
There were 467 households out of which 25.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.6% were married couples living together, 5.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.3% were non-families. 36.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 24.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.87.
In the city the population was spread out with 23.6% under the age of 18, 4.7% from 18 to 24, 21.3% from 25 to 44, 24.4% from 45 to 64, and 26.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 84.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 76.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $31,141, and the median income for a family was $41,806. Males had a median income of $31,667 versus $21,083 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,670. About 9.7% of families and 14.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.1% of those under age 18 and 6.5% of those age 65 or over.