Why Is Topeka The Capital Of Kansas?

Why Is Topeka The Capital Of Kansas?
Why Is Topeka The Capital Of Kansas?







If you are thinking of going through Kansas sometime, you might be interested in what this great State’s capital is. Where is the center of Kansas, and what’s special about this city? Let’s find out!

The capital of Kansas is called Topeka, and it is situated in the eastern part of the state, on the Kansas River. The name is thought to have Indian origins, but the meaning is debated, and could be either “a good place to dig potatoes” or “smoky hill.” Topeka has an economy based on governmental services, agriculture, and manufacturing.

In this article, we’re going to learn all you could want to know about Topeka, including its location, its history, and when and how it became the capital of Kansas. We will also check out some of the top activities for the city so you know what to do if you visit!

Where Is The Capital Of Kansas Located? 

Where Is The Capital Of Kansas Located
Where Is The Capital Of Kansas Located

The capital of Kansas is found on the Kansas River. This is also known as the Kaw River, and it runs through northeastern Kansas, fed by Smoky Hill river and the Republican River. Near Manhattan, the Big Blue River joins it.

Topeka has a population of around 120,000, and has great variations in terms of its temperature and weather. It is often humid, but can have cold winters. Kansas is a state known for vast, rolling plains, but it also has hills and forests, especially in the northeast of the country. It is thought that these areas were mostly formed by glaciers, hundreds of thousands of years ago.

Kansas is surrounded by Colorado (to the west), Nebraska (to the north), Missouri (to the east), and Oklahoma (to the south). It sits near the center of the United States and is fully landlocked.

Brief History Of Topeka

Exterior of the Kansas State Capital Building in Topeka, Kansas at Night
Exterior of the Kansas State Capital Building in Topeka, Kansas at Night

Topeka was founded by a group led by Charles Robinson. The group consisted of antislavery colonists. When the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway system was built, it became the HQ, under the eye of Cyrus Holliday, who was the president of the system and one of the founders of the city. 

Topeka experienced a rough, rocky existence, being the site of several major conflicts between antislavery movements and slave interest groups, and it is famous for its role in the US Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. In this landmark case, the racial segregation of schools was declared unconstitutional.

The city did enjoy trade from the river, with steamboats bringing flour, wood, and meat, and taking away crops such as corn, wheat, and potatoes. This brought wealth and prosperity to the citizens, but conflicts continued to cause problems.

Topeka was the center of the free-state movement (abolitionists who opposed slavery), and the town was under siege for months in 1856. Kansas was finally admitted into the Union in 1861, with Topeka as its chosen capital. Droughts and ongoing civil war slowed the growth of the city, but it continued.

When Did Topeka Become The Capital Of Kansas?

Aerial View of Topeka, Kansas Skyline in the Morning
Aerial View of Topeka, Kansas Skyline in the Morning

Topeka officially became the capital of Kansas in 1861, when Kansas was admitted to the Union. It became the seat of Shawnee county four years earlier, in 1857. In 1866, the Kansas State Capitol construction began, but it took almost 40 years for this building to be completed. Officials started using it during construction, around 1869.

Why Is Topeka The Capital Of Kansas?

It is hard to pinpoint exactly why Topeka became the capital of Kansas. It may be due to its political importance as a free-state, which meant that it was often the center of conflict and disagreement. The term “Bleeding Kansas” arose because of how fraught with tension the state was. In the buildup to the Civil War, political murders were commonplace.

Topeka is well situated geographically to be the capital, being on the river, but it is in the far east corner of the state. Without pioneering men like Holliday making efforts to connect it via rail and without the river’s opportunities for transport, it might never have become a significant town.

Best Places To Visit In Topeka

If you are going to visit Topeka, there are some must-see places, particularly if you are interested in the Civil War and the history behind it. The Kansas Museum of History is a great place to start. It was founded in 1875 in the State Capitol building, and then moved to a dedicated building. It has a range of exhibits, things for children, festivals, and events.

You can also visit the Combat Air Museum, a museum dedicated to aviation at the old site of the Forbes Air Force Base. This was founded in 1976, and contains a wide collection of aircraft from WWI and WWII. 

Alternatively, consider checking out the Old Prairie Town, which is situated at the Ward-Meade Historic Site. This is a beautiful park and open-air museum with a variety of historical buildings, and an 1870 Victorian mansion. It has an attached botanical gardens, a fountain, and a street of 19th century buildings, including a Methodist church from 1880.

If you’re not so interested in history but you love animals, there’s also the Topeka Zoological Park, which is an immensely popular attraction. It has an indoor tropical rainforest, which was the first in the US when it was built, and houses a myriad of different creatures to view and learn about.

Another option is the Kaw River State Park, which will let you get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and enjoy the open air. The bike offers cycling, walking, kayaking, canoeing, and picnicking. You may see some of Kansas’s native wildlife in this beautiful open space, and with 76 acres, there’s more than enough room to explore.


The capital of Kansas is known as Topeka, and it’s an amazing city with a rich – if conflicted – history. It has suffered from economic crashes, civil war, natural disasters, and more, but the result is a thriving and unique city that has so much to offer to its visitors.

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!