Even if you’re not familiar with the history of Cyrus K. Holliday and his celebrated ties to Topeka, his name and influence are prominent throughout the capital city. Cyrus K. Holliday is widely regarded as the "father" of Topeka and served as the city's first mayor. A renowned entrepreneur, he drafted the charter for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railway, known today as the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway. Holliday’s contributions grew Topeka from a small township to the capital city of Kansas.
In celebration of Holliday’s birthday, we want to honor the man, his work and his overwhelming impact on the history of Topeka. Here are the 5 best places to visit in Topeka that honor the legacy of Cyrus K. Holliday.
5. Downtown Topeka
Get those steps in as you explore the downtown and take in the history of Topeka. Making your way down Kansas Ave., you’ll find numerous statues commemorating influential figures; including founder of Washburn University Ichabod Washburn, Charles Curtis, the first Vice President of the U.S. of Native American descent, and, of course, Cyrus K. Holliday, who can be seen with his eyes raised toward the sky – ever looking ahead to the future.
Coming Soon: The Cyrus Hotel and Holliday Public House! This boutique hotel and restaurant is currently under construction at 10th and Kansas, paying homage to one of Top City’s founding tycoons. Stay tuned for more updates!
4. Kansas Museum of History
From a full-sized Cheyenne tipi, a fully stocked covered wagon ready for a trip on the Oregon Trail and a 1950s diner, the Kansas Museum of History charts the history of Kansas from past to present. At the center of the museum’s diverse and impressive exhibits stands the oldest surviving locomotive from the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, made in 1880. During its long history, the locomotive was named after Holliday, who founded the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF) in 1859. Visitors to the museum will enjoy the exhibits interactive features. Be sure to “hop aboard” during your next visit!
3. Historic Holliday Park
The Historic Holliday Park neighborhood contains some of the oldest houses in Topeka and boasts of a myriad of distinctive houses from all periods and styles: Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Craftsman, Bungalow, Prairie, Tudor. The Holliday Park neighborhood centers on a 1.5 acre triangular park at 12th and Western. The small community borders on Topeka High School, one of the city's most distinguished landmarks, and is also home to several thriving small businesses, including Café Holliday.
2. Kansas State Capitol Building
The Kansas State Capitol Building is an unparalleled landmark within the state of Kansas. The Capitol's distinctive copper dome with Ad Astra statue is a prominent feature of the Topeka skyline, but the view inside the dome is just as spectacular. But one thing many visitors – and Topekans for that matter- might not know is that Holliday donated the 20-acres of land on which the Capital now sits. Thanks, Cyrus!
1. Great Overland Station
The Great Overland Station, formerly home to the Union Pacific Railroad Station, is an architectural wonder and a tribute to Topeka’s historical ties to the railroad. The museum brings Topeka's railroad heritage to life through guided tours, photographs, special exhibits, children’s activities and more.
It was Holliday’s dream to build a railroad that would run southwest along the Santa Fe Trail. And in making his dream a reality, he put Topeka on the map.