Mulvane was named in honor of Joab Mulvane, of Topeka, Kansas, for his contributions that brought the railroad through Mulvane.
Mulvane was first laid out in August, 1879, and the Mulvane Town Company's Certificate of Incorporation was filed on September 20th, 1879. The original town was built at the junction of five Santa Fe rail lines. The very first train to ever pull into Mulvane arrives from Wichita, Kansas, on September 29, 1879. The Mulvane Station was two box cars, set end to end on the west side of the tracks. The following day, a train from Wellington arrives, and both trains, pulling flat cars with railroad ties for seats, are loaded with approximately 4000 people, and steam on to Winfield to celebrate the new addition to the railroad. The two box cars would be used as the Mulvane depot until 1910, when a new brick depot was built.
On August 13, 1880, the Mulvane Record reports that the first bridge across the Arkansas River is completed. Citizens on both sides of the raging Arkansas raise the funds to build this pontoon bridge to accommodate settlers on both sides of the river. This bridge helps Mulvane to prosper in the coming years. Later, a newer bridge was constructed south of the city. This bridge was then replaced by a more modern bridge located on K-53.
Mulvane's Old Settlers celebration dates back to the fall of 1873, when Jessie Bowles invites neighbors and friends to enjoy a basket dinner in the walnut grove on his farm. Thereafter, the Harvest Home Picnics were held on different farms each year. The first organized picnic takes place in 1884 in Littleton, just southeast of Mulvane, and is hosted by Jim Brown, owner of a trading post there. On this day, the morning is reserved for socializing and getting acquainted with neighbors, followed by a lunch. In 1904, the annual picnic name is changed to Quad county Old Settlers' Picnic. The first Old Settlers' Parade was organized by George Blair in 1915. The first Quad County Old Settlers' Reunion Queen, Sarah Jane Jones, was crowned on August 26, 1937. Today, the Mulvane Old Settlers' celebration creates excitement and anticipation in the young and the old alike, just as it did more than 100 years ago.
On April 12, 1893, a fire starts in Daniel Lane's icehouse before 11:00 a.m. and ends up destroying 16 buildings in downtown Mulvane. The fire was small when it was first discovered, but winds fanned the flames toward other buildings, which soon caught fire. Wind continues to carry flames and heat across Main Street, and the buildings on the sought side of the street also ignite. It is believed that the Great Fire of 1893 was a result of either spontaneous combustion or a spark from a passing locomotive.
In the early 1900s electricity is brought to Mulvane. The first steam-powered electric generator is installed at the Mulvane Mill in a room built exclusively for that purpose. Churches and businesses were the first to receive electricity. Electricity, however, was not a profitable business venture, and the system was sold to the Mulvane Ice and Cold Storage Company.
In 1919, it was sold to the City of Mulvane to be developed into the Mulvane Light & Power Department. At the same time, the City enlarged and improved the plant. Today, the City of Mulvane provides all the electricity, along with water and sewer within the city limits.
In 1905, due to the many fires, the Mulvane citizens are interested in better fire protection. In October, 1905, an American LaFrance Fire Engine is ordered, and the mayor appoints a fire marshal, and forms the Mulvane Fire Company.
In early 1906, the Dickerson building is purchased to house the fire company and equipment. On July 22, 1918, the Mulvane Volunteer Fire Department charters with the State of Kansas and becomes a not-for-profit corporation. On December 30, 1926, the Mulvane Fire Department purchases a 1927 IH Boyer Fire Engine; this was the department's first motorized engine.