Taking 296 steps to Topeka’s top

Trista Pinick

There’s a lot to find out about Topeka’s Capitol Building. Most who grew up nearby have visited it at least once if only because of a school field trip and enthusiastic teacher. But for those who’ve grown up, it’s still a place filled with art, history, stories and a really cool elevator.

The tours offer a wealth of information like the total cost of the State House was more than $3.2 million when it was built and it stands 304 feet to the top of the dome. You can sit in on the house meetings and see what all those business-dressed people are up to. The offices of elected officials are available for viewing. The murals of John Stuart Curry are presented.

Yet, there is another tour offered. That’s the dome tour, which runs every half hour and takes 45 minutes to complete. The dome tour is a little more difficult for some people. There are usually a couple small children who shrink back when the final winding steps approach – and a couple of adults too.

Those last steps, where you can see a lot of space below if you look down between the steps, are the finale into the open air and railing that looks out onto the city of Topeka. From where the statue of an Indian rests, the view of the city is expansive, rivaled most closely by the sight from the top of Skyline Park. From Wanamaker to North Topeka, Minneger’s to Lake Shawnee and beyond, almost everything in the city is in sight.

When it’s over, it’s time to walk back down those 296 steps.

The Capitol Building is open 8 – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The tours of the Kansas Capitol Building run at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. They are free and are conducted by the State Historical Society.

To confirm times or find other information about the tours, please call (785) 296-3966.