Pappan’s Ferry Charette

View the Final Pappan’s Ferry Charette Document

This document does not currently meet 508 accessibility standards, but the National Park Service is working to remediate the document.  Please contact Dan Warner at the City of Topeka Planning & Development Department if the content is needed in another format for accessibility reasons. 


Joseph Pappan, with the assistance of his brothers, operated a ferry across the Kansas River in an area north of current downtown Topeka.  Between 1841 and 1863, Oregon and California trail travelers used this ferry to cross the wide, deep, and swift river.  The current Oregon and California national historic trails run directly through the project site.

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In order to explore appropriate national historic trail (NHT) visitor use and development of the area and site, the National Park Service (NPS), National Trails Intermountain Region (NTIR) staff partnered with the City of Topeka, Shawnee County, Topeka Riverfront Authority, Heartland Visioning, Inc., and Railroad Heritage, Inc. to hold a design charette for the historic Pappan’s Ferry site and future Topeka Riverfront Park the week of August 22-26, 2016. Participants included elected officials, representatives of local government, non-pro fit organizations, local business owners, historic trail association members, residents of the North Topeka neighborhood, a group of 4th grade students from Quincy Elementary School, and other interested partners and stakeholders. Areas of focus included the historic Pappan’s Ferry site, existing levee, and future city park site. One of the major goals for the charette was to highlight the diverse history and heritage of the Oregon and California NHTs and Pappan’s Ferry by creating a visitor experience that will engage local residents and destination visitors alike.

Based on the feedback received from the pre-charette feedback form and at the charette, and with a focus on the period of significance of Pappan’s Ferry and the Oregon and California NHTs, the project team, generated design and interpretive concepts for the future park site. The design concepts address visitor use, circulation, visitor experience, facility design, and site development. The interpretive concepts address trail wide themes, site specific themes, suggested media types, and proposed media locations. These design and interpretive concepts are outlined in the final charette document and explore how to facilitate visitor access, understanding, and appreciation of the significance of this site.