Junction K-18 north of Sylvan Grove (1948-1961)
Saline River Bridge south of Sylvan Grove (1961-1972)
Junction K-232 at east edge of Wilson Dam (1972-present)
Counties Passed through: Russell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osbourne, Smith
K-181 is one of several highways added to the state highway system in 1937. The number was derived from US 281. The entire route was gravel.
Initially, the south end of the road was at US 24 near Downs. In 1946, the Highway Commission authorized an extension of K-181 south to K-18 near Sylvan Grove. The extension had to be constructed to state standards before the state would incorporate it into the system. The segment from US 24 to the Osborne/Mitchell County Line was accepted on October 13, 1948. The segment from the county line east to Tipton was accepted August 10, 1950. The remainder of the Mitchell County segment was accepted March 26, 1952. The route north of Tipton was paved by 1953. The final part of the extension, in Lincoln County, was accepted May 12, 1954. The highway from Tipton to Sylvan Grove was paved by 1956.
In 1961, K-181 was extended south through Sylvan Grove to the north end of the Saline River Bridge. In 1972, K-181 was extended to K-232 at the east side of the Wilson Dam.