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Great Overland Station

Features

  1. Air Conditioning
  2. Conference Room
  3. Dining Room
  4. Heating
  5. Kitchen
  6. Meeting Rooms
  7. Parking
  8. Refrigerator
  9. Restrooms
  10. Seating for 100
  11. Tables and Chairs

In July 2020 the Shawnee County Board of Commissioners voted to accept the transfer of ownership of Great Overland Station from Railroad Heritage, Inc., to Shawnee County for the sum of $1. The building, valued at more than $5 million, is on the National Register of Historic Places as the Union Pacific Railroad Passenger Depot. The station is managed by Shawnee County Parks + Recreation.

Built in 1927, the building now serves as a museum celebrating Topeka’s rich history as well as a special event and meeting venue. Visitors to the museum can learn about area railroads including the Santa Fe/BNSF, Union Pacific, Rock Island, Missouri Pacific and Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. They can learn about the history of the site from the Oregon Trail, Pappan’s Ferry crossing, and the birthplace of U.S. Vice President Charles Curtis. The BNSF Plaza includes the Corridor of Flags and All Veterans Memorial honoring our nation’s veterans and active military.

Great Overland Station brings Topeka's railroad heritage to life through photographs, special exhibits, and costumed docents. There are many activities for children to do and things to see. There are two simulator's that are hands on. One is an older style, and another is more recent which allows children to use the controls and pretend they are driving the engine. In the "Choo Choo Junction" there is a train table where children can rearrange the train cars; a coloring table with trains for tracing, and pictures for coloring and a play table with books and activities for the children to use. The "Big Red Caboose" is a great experience too. It is "child size" so they can experience the hand brakes, the tables and chairs, and more.

Hours: (NOTE: Great Overland Station will reopen to visitors in October.)

Tue.-Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (Last ticket sale at 3:15 p.m.)
Closed Sundays, the 1st Wednesday of every month and most major Holidays

NOTE: All weddings and receptions previously scheduled for Great Overland Station will be honored. The building is presently closed to general tours due to COVID-19. Additional reservations will be available in 2021.

History

Great Overland Station began as a Union Pacific railroad passenger station on January 27, 1927. Along the way, it survived floods, was remodeled for railroad offices, was abandoned in 1988, and was damaged by fire in 1992. Railroad Heritage, Inc. leased the building from the Union Pacific Railroad to prevent the building's demolition.

Union Pacific Corporation donated the station to Topeka Railroad Days, Inc. six years later, and the Great Overland Station Project Team was established to direct efforts to preserve the station and transform it into a railroad heritage museum. In June 2004, The Great Overland Station opened its doors.

The Great Overland Station is quite beautiful, and this is a spectacular special event space, but Great Overland Station is still building toward its potential. Other than the structure itself, the biggest attraction is the 100 or so freight trains that pass the building daily. Perhaps more can be done with Topeka's connection to the Harvey House restaurant chain.

Harvey House Luncheons and tours of the Great Overland Station are available to groups with advance reservations.