As winter approached in 2008, Ruth and I spent a week on the road with Australian friends traveling from Salt Lake City to Lake Tahoe (see earlier blog Bear Country) always one day ahead of serious snow. John and Trish were interested in state capitols, so we took the time to explore Utah’s and Nevada’s. Both exceeded expectations as worthy attractions and gave Ruth and me a desire to see more of them.
I did some research and found out that all 50 states provide free tours of their capitol buildings although a couple, like Alaska, only offer them in the summer. New Hampshire has a self-guided tour. It’s easy to check on-line before travel.
I always learn offbeat, fascinating facts about the state I’m in when I take these tours, and the groups, which tend to be small and informal, usually include families and a surprising number of young couples. Did you know that Connecticut was the only colony not to have a royal governor? One of its nicknames is “Land of Steady Habits”. Modeled on our National Capitol in Washington, DC, Utah’s capitol is definitely one of the more beautiful. Utah is one of only 4 states with its House, Senate, and Supreme Court under one roof, and you’re safer inside now since Utah citizens recently spent $220,000,000 making their capitol earthquake-proof. Abraham Lincoln saw that he might need Nevada’s gold and silver to win The Civil War, so he asked its residents to quickly write a constitution. In 1864 they sent it via the longest telegram in history. It took two days to transmit. See what I mean about fascinating?
Last week after living in Washington for 8 years, Ruth and I visited the capitol building in Olympia. This State seems kind of focused on weight. Its two bronze entry doors weigh a ton each and are ceremoniously closed and locked each and every night. Hanging in its rotunda is a 5 ton Tiffany chandelier, the largest one the Company ever made. For what it’s worth, a man named Frank Schmitt wrote in the guest book, “Best state capitol tour we’ve ever taken.”
Ruth walked out of California’s with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Christmas train, but that a story for another time.
As you travel, take the time to include the capitols along the way, especially if you’re traveling with children who probably aren’t getting as much traditional history in school as you did.