We're in Kansas!

We're in Kansas!

Almost as soon as we left the hotel this morning, we were in Kansas: state #47 for us.  We headed out of the city and heard the unmistakeable sound of a train whistle.


Whoa!  it was right behind us.


We slowed down a little so it caught us up and enjoyed driving alongside for a while.  I began to count the wagons behind the three engines, but lost count when I got to 41 and had reached only about half way.


Meanwhile, on the other side of the road, a Kansas farmer was hard at work.  The forecast wasn't so good and the overcast skies made us think that the weather might break at any time.  Here's hoping he got all his combining done before the rain came!


It wasn't so far to Topeka, our destination for the day and we decided to go straight to the Kansas State Capitol.


An underground car park made accessing the Capitol easy and we were able to take the lift right up to the visitors centre.


Though we could have simply wandered through the building we chose to wait a few minutes and join a guided tour.


We were glad we did, for there was a lot to see and Darren was a great guide.  We powered on straight through to the Senate to begin with and loved the copper panels and pillars in there.


I had snapped a quick photograph of the dome as we went, where again, those copper accents were so lovely, especially with the blue.


The House was somewhat plainer, but Ill confess to not really listening to Darren point out the decorative detail, because I'd spotted the name on the desk of one of the Congressmen...


I wonder how Tom Sawyer feels about his name?


Next stop was the library.


Darren explained that the original librarian had simply ordered the Carnegie shelving system from a catalogue


Beautiful though the shelves were, what amused us most was the "book lift"; a kind of dumb waiter for getting the books up to the top level by means of a rope and pulley system.  Neat!


Once in the hallway, Darren took the opportunity to talk about the murals, painted by John Steuart Curry.  There was a whole series of them and they were not well received, to the extent that the artist's parting shot was a small flurry of skunks painted in the last panel.


Rumour had it that the names of the most vociferous critics had been painted in there too, but we didn't hang around long enough to look closely.


We went back down to where we'd started by means of a lovely but rather creaky old lift (actually one of the last of its kind)  operated by a woman sitting inside.  What a job!


When we emerged from the underground car park, we discovered the weather had indeed broken and the rain was coming down in torrents.


Our next stop was Monroe High School, the site of Brown vs Board, a significant event in the history of civil rights and now a National Parks operated historic site.


Last stop was the Kansas Museum of History.  We thought we were never going to get there, for it's right out of town in an empty area of parkland.


There was a lot of stuff in there, arranged in a reasonably logical order but it had already been a long day and I found I needed to focus on one or two specific displays to get the most out of it.  This teepee fascinated me, partly because I realised that I had never seen one up close, but when I spotted the fastening, I just had to look more closely.


The explanation alongside described the way the teepee was raised and secured by the women of the tribe when they arrived at their overnight stop and that two women could have it up and ready in fifteen minutes.


Decorative accents too!


Somewhere in the midst of all the multitude of stuff in there I spotted this poster, which made me smile.


I loved this little gem of an entry from the 1913 State Show.


Clearly the judge had been impressed too...


No marks or comment though- or maybe they were on the reverse?


By now I really was flagging, so I'll round off Topeka with the initials of the railroad company that everyone seems to know.  I wonder how many can sing it, though? 

On the trail

On the trail