Topeka, KS August 12, 2017

Our time in Independence, Missouri was over and we made the short trip over the border into Kansas, a new state for us.  We were excited about our plans to explore Kansas over the next several weeks.20170811_111743

First stop was at Rock Creek State Recreation Area in Perry, just outside of Topeka.  We had a lovely view of Perry Lake.  Bill has really reserved some campsites with wonderful views!20170813_133029

Topeka is the capital of Kansas, so on Saturday we headed into Topeka to tour the Capitol building.IMG_20170812_095326

The Capitol was built between 1866 and 1903 and is designed after the U.S. Capitol.  On top of the dome is a 4,420 pound, 22 foot high sculpture of a Kansa Indian.  It is named “Ad Astra” after the state motto “ad astra per aspera” meaning “to the stars through adversity”.  The arrow in his hand is pointing to the North Star. IMG_20170812_09563320170812_111748a 

Kansas was named for the Kansa Indians, a Siouan tribe in the region.  The French explorers were the first to write down the name Kansa.  One French explorer wrote Kansas on a map and soon everyone was calling it Kansas.20170812_104615

We don’t usually take guided tours of Capitol buildings because we prefer to take our time and wander around looking at exhibits and taking pictures.  But since a tour was about to begin when we arrived, we decided to go along.  IMG_20170812_101513

The building has beautiful murals and statues to famous Kansas people including Dwight Eisenhower, Amelia Earhart and Charles Curtis, the first Native American Vice-President of the United States.


Dwight David Eisenhower 1890 – 1969 Soldier – US President



Amelia Mary Earhart 1897 – 1937 (?) Aviation Pioneer


The murals depicted pioneer life with one mural of abolitionist, John Brown.  Notice the tornado in the distance. IMG_20170812_102606IMG_20170812_11162920170812_10312520170812_101423 

The flags in the Rotunda represent  all the nations that have  claimed all or portions of Kansas: United Kingdom, French Monarchy, the French Republic, Mexico, Spain, Texas, United States and Kansas.  Representative Hall featured marble, gold leaf, and pink columns made  from faux marble. 20170812_101505 

The  Senate chamber featured several types of marble, original native Kansas wild cherry wood desks and hand cast columns with ornate circular grills that helps with air circulation.


Senate Gallery


House Gallery

We rode the cage elevator, installed in 1923 which requires an elevator operator.IMG_20170812_105522  20170812_110455aIMG_20170812_110645

In 2014, a thirteen year, $330 million dollar renovation was completed.

After touring the Capitol we drove to the nearby Brown v Brown Board of Education National Historic Site.  IMG_20170812_114309It is the only national park named for a U.S. Supreme Court case.  It is located in the former Monroe School, at one time one of four schools for black children in Topeka.  In 1949 parents of six students who attended the school participated in the Brown v. Board of Education lawsuit. IMG_20170812_114346 

On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “in the field of public education, separate educational facilities are inherently unequal”.  Inside the school today is a museum to the Civil Rights Movement, especially in the field of public education.20170812_123739a

  • Kansas became a state in 1861, the 34th state.
  • President Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act in 1956 which began the effort to build a nationwide system of highways.   Today the national system is called the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways and stretches over 46,000 miles across the country.  Kansas was the first state in the country to open an Interstate highway with a portion of Interstate 70 passing through  Topeka.
  • Some early travelers crossed the Kansas plains in wind wagons–wagons outfitted with sails.  It is said they traveled up to forty mph as the wind blew over the plains.
  • The state bird is the western meadowlark.  It is also the state bird of Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon and Wyoming!
  • Kansas is part of “Tornado Alley”, an area of the country hit by more tornadoes than any other place in the world, along with Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.  Kansas doesn’t lead in states with the total number of tornadoes, but it has the record for the highest number of F-5 intensity (most intense) tornadoes since 1880.
  • Kansas state flower is the wild native sunflower.  The sunflower image is on their state road signs.  They flower from July to September and can be up to ten feet tall.IMG_20170812_100143
  • Kansas state tree is the cottonwood.
  • Topeka was established in 1854 by a group of antislavery settlers, seven years before statehood was granted in 1861.  It had one of the most complex Underground Railroad networks in the country, with as many as 23 stops.
  • Payless Shoes was started in Topeka in 1956.  Mars, Inc came to Topeka in 2015 and now produces Peanut M&M’s and Snickers at its Topeka plant.  If you see TOP on the wrapper, it was made in Topeka!

Next stop: Milford, Kansas

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