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Topeka, Kansas

Topeka, Kansas

On December 5, 1854, nine men made the wintry trek from the tent city of Lawrence to a small log cabin on the banks of the Kansas River. Huddled in the cold before a smoky fire, this group of men founded a town which was to play a major role in the "Bleeding Kansas" territory and later become the new state's capital.

"Bleeding Kansas" in the 1850s has been called a prelude to the Civil War which would follow in the next decade. Topekans such as John Ritchie battled for the abolition of slavery as Kansas approached statehood. His home became a meeting place for the free-state faction and a station on the underground.

In 1862, there was not a mile of railroad on operation in the entire state of Kansas. By 1872, just ten years later, Kansas boasted more miles of track than any of the other 26 states, and Topeka was a major hub. The Union Pacific Railroad rolled into Topeka from Kansas City on January 1, 1866. In 1868, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railway was born. Among the notable people who passed through the station were Ulysses S. Grant, Gen. Philip Sheridan, Russian Grand Duke Alexis, and Kansas' favorite son, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Carrie Nation called Topeka home for a time. She supported herself from sales of her newspaper, "The Smashers Mail " which she printed in Topeka.

The Episcopal Church established the College of the Sisters of Bethany in 1860, and Washburn University originally started in 1865 as a Congregational College.

When Karl Menninger received his medical degree, he came home to join his father and the Menninger Clinic was born. It is known as the world leader in mental health treatment and research.

From its beginning, Topeka has played a major role in government, transportation and health care. This strong tradition is still alive today. Topeka is a city with a colorful past which points to an even more exciting future.

Attractions and Upcoming Events

Lake Shawnee Recreational Area

Lake Shawnee is a man-made, 411-acre lake offering fishing, boating, sailing and swimming. Within the 1,600-acre park surrounding the lake are foot trails, fish hatcheries (for stocking the lake), a golf course, a marina, tennis courts, shelter houses, horseback trails, ball diamonds, and gardens.

Topeka, KS Recreation

Jayhawk State Theatre of Kansas

On August 11, 1925, E.H. Crosby of the Crosby Brothers Company made the first announcement of his plans to provide the capital city of Kansas with a modern theatre. The Jayhawk Theatre opened its doors on August, 1926. Placed on the national register of historic places in 1974

Topeka, KS Historic Theatres

The Great Overland Station

This historic Union Pacific depot has been restored to its 1927

Topeka, KS Railroad History

Gage Park

Gage Park is one of the biggest attractions in Topeka. Within the park itself, the biggest attraction is the Topeka Zoo, which allows visitors to come face to face with gorillas in a special Gorilla Encounter exhibit. Other features at the zoo include a bush camp with a lion'

Topeka, KS Recreation

Topeka Zoological Park

The Topeka Zoological Park occupies a beautiful setting in Gage Park. Intimate views of nearly 400 animals from all over the world add to the reputation of the Topeka Zoo as one of the nation's finest small zoos. Major exhibits include Hill's Black Bear Woods, Animals and Man (

Topeka, KS Zoos

Things to do near Topeka, KS

Hunting at Perry Reservoir

Perry Lake has approximately 21,600 acres of public land managed for wildlife. Turkey, deer, quail, pheasant, rabbit, squirre...

Topeka Harley-Davidson Museum

The Harley-Davidson Museum features 30 rare Harley-Davidsons along with many pictures, tools and other collectibles. Yesterda...

Alvamar Orchards Executive Golf Course

The Orchards is a par three, nine hole executive course open to the public....