EMPORIA (KSNT) – If you’ve been to Peter Pan Park in Emporia you’ve seen Monkey Island, but to learn the history behind the New Deal project you’ll have to attend “Celebrating Monkey Island” on Sat., Aug. 13 at 10:30 a.m., at the historic Red Rocks State Historic Site, 927 Exchange St.

Monkey Island, Peter Pan Park, Emporia, Kansas 1934, 2022 respectively

Roger Heineken will present a history of the park, a gift to the community from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist William Allen White, and offer some insight into why Monkey Island has fallen into ruins.

The island was built at a cost of $4,600 at $0.40 per-hour for labor. It was the second animal feature at the park coming on the heels of a pen that housed deer.

Monkey Island remained in the 52-acre park until the early 1970s when interest shifted towards establishing a zoo.

Emporia was not the only city with a Monkey Island, Topeka had one as well in Gage Park, Heineken said. That too may have led to the establishment of a zoo, as it became more difficult to keep the monkeys from escaping. Monkey Island at Gage Park stood from 1960 to 1969.

The stone exhibit was built in 1934, like many structures as part of the New Deal WPA.

The Saturday at the Site programs, held at the home of the famed Kansas journalist, are free, and the public is invited to attend.