An educational facility in Topeka, Kansas for residents and tourists is the Kansas Museum of History. The museum takes visitors into the past on western trails, during the civil war, and much more. The history museum is located on I70 west of Topeka. It is open 9am to 5pm Tuesday thru Saturday, and Sunday 1pm to 5pm. The museum is closed on major holidays. They provide workshops, classes, and other interactive activities during the year. Admission to the museum is $5 for adults, $3 for children.
When visitors arrive at the Kansas Museum of History they will see a full sized Cheyenne tipi, covered wagon, and a 1950's diner. The centerpiece of the display is a locomotive built in 1880 for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad. Inside the museum visitors will find the Native American History exhibit. On display are arrowheads, pottery, and a 5,000 year old human effigy head. A replica of a grass lodge and war lance is also available to see. The war lance dates to the 1860's. The cultures displayed at the museum include the Osage, Wichita, and Kansa. These tribes used the plains for their homes for many centuries.
The Oregon and Santa Fe Trails were imperative to going westward or southward. To symbolize this The Forts and Trails exhibit has a prairie scene with buffalo and dogs. There is also a rifle once used by a trader. Other trails existed going from Kansas. For example the Oregon- California Trail began at the Missouri River to go northeast through Kansas. The history of the more important trails is discussed in the exhibit.
When people think about the civil war they tend to think only of the eastern states like Virginia and Georgia that were involved. However, the war also affected places like Kansas. Part of the exhibit is the pike John Brown purchased in order to arm slaves. A camp scene with a stove, camp chair, and lamp desk also make up the collection. Kansas soldiers used weapons and had uniforms which are now on display at the museum. Lastly in this section is a painting of the Battle of the Blue.
To help visitors imagine the past a log house was built inside the museum depicting life along the Saline River. A stage coach from the Southwestern Stage Company, 1930's Farmall tractor and "Queen'' windmill are on display. After the Civil War settlers were lured out to Kansas and other areas with a promise of cheap land. Many of the settlers were farmers. The museum shows this lifestyle of the agricultural set as well.
Perhaps an important and interesting exhibit of the 21st century is the Fast Food Gallery. The beginnings of the fast food industry are displayed with a 1950's diner vignette, the first McDonald's sign in town, and Harvey House menus. According to history Kansas restaurants were among the first to create a fast food option.
Other exhibits of the Kansas Museum of History are the Trains and Towns, Early 20th Century, and African American History.