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We are happy to announce the 
2013 Kansas Hall of Fame Laureates!  


Clark Kent/Superman     1932-

He is the most recognized superhero in pop culture and he’s a Kansan.

Like many who have achieved greatness in Kansas, he was not born here; nor was he born in our world. When the planet Krypton was exploding and his parents knew they would not survive, they placed their baby in a space craft and sent him to Earth. For Jonathan and Martha Kent, a childless couple in Smallville, Kansas, he was the answer to their prayers.

 It soon became apparent that young Clark was not like other people.  He was stronger, faster, and defied gravity. His body was virtually indestructible. His Kansas parents wisely counseled him that these attributes were not to be used for his personal gain, but for a greater good.  The love and values instilled by the Kent family of rural Kansas shaped their son’s life both as a newsman and as a superhero.

The superhero’s creators chose to place him in Kansas for a reason: so he would learn that super powers without super values are not only useless, they are also dangerous.  Superman may not have been born in Kansas, but “Truth, justice and the American way” certainly were.

This comic book character has become so beloved that a long-running television show and numerous movies have told and retold his story, and the much awaited new film, “Man of Steel,” will debut June 14.  Perhaps Superman has endured because his story is not so far-fetched. With loving parents, a work ethic, solid values and a good education, great things are possible.

Dr. James Naismith     November 6, 1861 – November 28, 1939

“From a peach basket in 1891 to the Olympics in 1936”

Known world-wide as the “Father of Basketball,” Canadian-born James Naismith spent more than four decades at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, founding one of the most storied programs in college athletics.

 As a Physical Education teacher at the Y.M.C.A. International Training School in Springfield, MA, Naismith was given two weeks to create an indoor game to occupy a rowdy class of young men during the brutal New England winter.  After tacking two peach baskets to the walls, Naismith gave the men a soccer ball to throw into them – and basketball was born. His first game was played December 15, 1891. A month later, his “Rules of Basketball” were published, many of which continue to govern the game today. 

After receiving his medical degree at the University of Colorado in 1898, Naismith came to KU as Associate Professor of Physical Culture and Chapel Director. He was not only an athlete, but a minister, teacher, physician, sportsman, spiritual leader and military chaplain. This broad background led Dr. Naismith to promote the idea that physical exercise was necessary for a healthy life.  He instituted basketball as a winter sport for both boys and girls and oversaw the early development of the game while coaching the first KU basketball teams.  He was a good teacher: one of his players, Forrest C. “Phog” Allen is recognized as the “Father of Basketball Coaching.”

The game of basketball became an Olympic sport at the 1936 games in Berlin.  James Naismith attended and tossed up the first ball, a fitting honor for the game’s creator.  

KANSAS     1973-

These home-grown musicians took the soil of Kansas, turned it into poetry, set it to music, and made music history.  The band’s million-selling gold single, “Dust in the Wind,” is playing somewhere around the world every moment of the day.  Celebrating four decades in the music business this year, the band continues to maintain an active tour schedule and the demand for their recordings has never waned.

In a highly competitive environment, KANSAS was, and is, unique. Kerry Livgren’s songwriting, Robby Steinhardt’s violin, and Steve Walsh’s vocals combined with the guitar of Richard Williams and drums of Phil Ehart gave the band a sound that was ahead of its time. As a loyal fan said, their music “perplexed record companies eager to put music in a box. This band has always defied description, and avoided being typecast.”

Wally Gold, record producer for the legendary Don Kirshner, was credited with “discovering” KANSAS while they were performing at the Ellinwood (Kansas) Opera House. KANSAS has produced eight gold albums, three sextuple-Platinum albums, and one platinum live album. Their songs have been featured in television shows and feature films, and KANSAS has reached a whole new audience through their unmistakable presence on the popular video games Rock Band and Guitar Hero.

The foundation for their success and their unique sound is simple, band members agree. It is simply, Kansas.

Drs. C. F., (1862-1953) Karl (1893-1990) and Will Menninger (1899-1966)

"We had a vision of a better kind of medicine and a better kind of world."

Karl and Will Menninger were only boys when their father, Dr. Charles Frederick Menninger returned from visiting the Mayo Clinic and told them they would become doctors and join him in a new family clinic. Karl was following that path to medicine when he became interested in “the people in the basement” of the hospital, the mentally ill. Dr. Charles considered it most important that “the family practice together, not just that we practice”, thus the father’s dream was realized, and psychiatry would become the family specialty.

On April 1, 1925, Drs. Charles and Karl opened the Menninger Sanitarium, and in December younger son, Will, joined them.  The three men brought very different and necessary qualities to the practice: Charles, the visionary; Karl, the brilliant writer; Will, the people-person. All possessed a commitment to treatment, research and education that transformed the world of psychiatry.

As pioneers in the field, the Menningers earned a reputation that secured their place in shaping both attitudes and public policy. Dr. Will was billed as the “Salesman for Psychiatry,” and was the president of three leading psychiatric organizations in the nation. Dr. Karl’s books, including Man Against Himself and The Human Mind, brought an understanding of psychiatry to the general public.

Professionals from around the globe trained at Menninger’s and a third generation carried the vision of Dr. Charles forward. The Menninger Clinic is now affiliated with Baylor School of Medicine in Houston, TX. 

First Kansas Colored Infantry

By the time Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry had already fought and died in the hope of securing their freedom. Raised in the summer of 1862 by U. S. Senator James H. Lane, the 1st Kansas Colored consisted mainly of fugitive slaves from Missouri. So many fleeing slaves were eager to enlist that the 2nd Kansas Colored was mustered soon after. These were the first black regiments in the United States Army, recruited months before the federal government would officially allow them to serve. 

225 soldiers of the 1st Kansas saw initial combat at Island Mound, Missouri in October, 1862, where they sustained ten fatalities.  Reports of the success of the 1st Kansas against a larger opponent and of the ferocity they showed that day encouraged other federal African-American units that were forming elsewhere.  Almost 200,000 black soldiers would become engaged during the Civil War.

In October, 2012, the state of Missouri dedicated the Island Mound Battlefield as its newest historic site. The memorial dedicated to their memory is an eloquent testament to their plight and their accomplishment. It reads in part:

 Here, a group of volunteers faced battle with the certainty of only two outcomes – victory or death – for there would be no quarter given to a black man who had taken up arms.

 Here, in uniforms issued on behalf of a country that had not yet emancipated them, they revealed courage and tenacity under fire.

 Here, the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry defeated a force rebellious to the Federal government laying to rest doubts that former slaves could perform as soldiers.

 Here, their bravery and determination helped our nation better understand the founding fathers’ words “all men are created equal.”

 Their battle was in Missouri. Their hope and their home were in Kansas. 


701 N. Kansas Avenue   PO Box 8792   Topeka, Kansas 66608   Phone:  (785) 232-5533  Fax:  (785) 232-6259  

 Tues thru Sat:  10am to 4pm   / Last Admission 3:15 pm
Closed Sunday and Monday, Holidays and the 1st Wednesday of every month.
Adults: $6, Seniors 62+: $5, Military w/ID: $1 discount, Ages 3-12: $2,
Children 2 and under and Members are Free

All information provided on this website is provided for information purposes only and under the direct of Railroad Heritage, Inc.  Information on this website is subject to change without prior notice.  Railroad Heritage, Inc. makes no guarantees of any kind. 

 Contact us at 785-232-5533 if you encounter any problems.


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