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Judy Garland sang about this Kansas city in a popular 1946 ditty that won an Oscar for Best Original Song - "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe." The song, of course, refers to the famed railroad that helped put Topeka on the map. Founded in 1854 on the banks of the Kansas River by a group of antislavery colonists, Topeka became the state capital in 1861. The city was headquarters for the building of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway system. Designed after the one in Washington, D.C, the Topeka capitol is topped by a 22-foot-high statue of an American Indian warrior named Ad Astra from the state motto "Ad Astra per Aspera," ...

Judy Garland sang about this Kansas city in a popular 1946 ditty that won an Oscar for Best Original Song - "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe." The song, of course, refers to the famed railroad that helped put Topeka on the map. Founded in 1854 on the banks of the Kansas River by a group of antislavery colonists, Topeka became the state capital in 1861. The city was headquarters for the building of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway system. Designed after the one in Washington, D.C, the Topeka capitol is topped by a 22-foot-high statue of an American Indian warrior named Ad Astra from the state motto "Ad Astra per Aspera," meaning "To the Stars Through Difficulty." Climb the 296 steps to the top of the building for a panoramic view of the city. The Oliver Brown family lived in Topeka and the city was the setting for the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. The 1954 Supreme Court ruling eliminated the "separate but equal" standard in the nation's public schools, paving the way for school desegregation across the country. It's interesting to note that Topeka High School had been fully integrated since its opening in the late 1890s. Only the elementary schools in Topeka were segregated at the time of the ruling.

Jackie Finch
About the Expert

Jackie Sheckler Finch has written several guidebooks, including The Unofficial Guide to Campgrounds in the Great Lakes States, and four times she was named Travel Writer of the Year by Midwest Travel Writers Association.

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring and autumn