Tag Archives: State Capitols

US State Capitols: Helena, Montana

Visited: July 7, 2019

Louisiana and Montana are very far apart from each other but most of what is today Montana became part of the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The point is there is a lot of space up in that part of the land. As soon as you cross from Idaho you see this almost immediately. The land is out there but it is very wide and very open. For the first three hundred miles we were in Montana I am pretty sure we saw more horses than humans.

They call Helena a city, it is a Capitol, but at a population of 36,000 it really felt more like a town. I remember pulling up to motel and Denise telling me were were on the edge of town but when I looked up I could see that capitol was only about 6 blocks away. Needless to say there was not much in the city. Besides the capitol building there were several casinos and a few supermarkets. Not many chain restaurants that I could tell, which was funny because when you go into the supermarket there are these kiosks at the registers with all of these chain restaurants which the closest was 200 miles away. Not that gift cards were ever great gifts to begin with but is someone going to really drive 200 miles to use their gift card?

It was July but the weather was little cold, in fact it rained a little bit with hail while we were there. It was a bit of a problem because we didn’t have any winter clothing but we had some old sweatshirts in the trunk so that was good enough.

We enjoyed our time walking around the state capitol. The layout of the building was a little bit different in that the Senate and Assembly chambers were both on the same side but it had all the basic elements like a dome and fake marble painted columns. The best part of the building were the stain glassed windows, which were very intricate and colorful. Admittance was free and the tour was self guided.

There is a temple in Billings, Montana but it is something when temples out of country might be more convenient.
Not a beer drinker but there were some interesting brews going on in the supermarket.
The only one of these stores I saw in Helena, Montana was Starbucks, because let’s face it Starbucks is everywhere.
Apparently the church in Montana has a smell problem. They ask you not to wear perfume or anything else smelly like lotions.

The capitol square has a campus feel to it.

The capitol dome had some cool Lewis and Clark paintings, it was definitely a theme.

Ceiling of the Supreme Court Chambers.
Lot of stain glass in the capitol.
I saw this little cafeteria behind the Senate chamber and I kind of had this strange mental image of legislators drinking pepsi and eating pretzels.
The title of the painting was Meeting Lewis and Clark but you couldn’t hardly see Lewis and Clark in the painting.
A nice view out to Montana.
Lot of casinos in Helena.


YouTube Video:


US State Capitols: Lansing, Michigan

Visited: July 5, 2018

Austin Blair was known as the Civil War Governor and was a firm opponent to slavery.

Michigan got it’s start on July 13th, 1787, when the Second Continental Congress created the Northwest Territory. Almost instantly there were lots of land disputes and in 1803 Ohio was formed and in 1805 Michigan became it’s own territory. Michigan immediately wanted to become a state but the land disputes prevented it from the application.

During the war of 1812, Detroit, which was the territorial seat got occupied by British forces, but the militia fought back and soon regained the territory. After the war the idea of statehood intensified. In 1835 Michigan formed a state government in Detroit without Congressional approval. Part of the problem was land disputes with Michigan’s neighbor Ohio. The land disputes came to a head when the two state militias took up arms against each other in what was known as the Toledo War. At the heart of the matter was the city of Toledo. Ohio won the fight, and as condition for entering the Union, Michigan was forced to cede Toledo, but did get a strip of and that was won in the war in 1812, and so Michigan became a state of two land masses.

Another concession given was that the capitol of Michigan had to move. Congress did not want the state capitol getting run over again by the British so they mandated that Michigan move their capitol to a safer location. Detroit of course protested but eventually relented and the first construction of a state capitol building began in 1847 in Lansing.

The current capitol building was built in 1872. It was a bit of a scandal because the architect, Elijah E. Myers was from Springfield, Illinois, and everyone thought that it must be a kickback having a out of state architect. The thing about it was that he actually built the building within budget and thinking of what happened to some buildings during the Civil War, it became one of the first fireproofed buildings in the nation by using fire resistant materials such as glass, steel, and stone.

Visited: July 5, 2018

The Coamerica building is one of the oldest buildings in Lansing.

Up in the dome of the capitol.

Senate chambers.

There are tours of the capitol or you can do what I did and do a self-guided tour.

Govenor’s ceremonial office.

The battle flag room with a steel and glass floor.

The view up to the capitol.

US State Capitols: Columbus, Ohio

Ohio achieved statehood and like any new state had to make a lot of decisions. One of course being where to put their new capitol. Like all state legislatures Ohio couldn’t decide on where it should go. There was a lot of back and forth but in the end they decided to compromise somewhere in the middle, literately in the middle, and thus Columbus became the capitol of Ohio.

We spent a lot of time on our road trip in Ohio, but Columbus was kind of a stopover to other things so we didn’t have much time to really stay in the capitol. It was Tuesday, July 10, 2018 that we visited Columbus, Ohio. It was early in the morning and our schedule had us going to a theme park that same day so we weren’t able to go inside, we did however see some interesting things on the outside.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Ohio State Capitol is the lack of a dome. The building is Greek revival (like many state capitols) and has a tube cylinder shape in the middle but then it just stops. The locals I saw told me they call it the “Chinese hat” because that is kind of what it looks like.

US State Capitols: Salem, Oregon

Visited July 21, 2018

Oregon’s capital has always been in Salem but the current building is not the first capitol. It makes sense with all the trees in Oregon that the capitol would be made out of wood, but as history has proven that is not always a wise move as fires has twice burned down the capitol building. The latest version was finished in the 1938. A more modern building the white marble building will hopefully last longer than it’s predecessors. We didn’t have much time to visit the Oregon State Capitol and it wasn’t open when we went. We did have a chance to walk around the area and found the neighborhood to be very nice. One one side is a little park with whimsical statues dedicated to music and on another side is Willamette college.


US State Capitols: Sacramento, California

Visited July 20, 2018

When California was part of Mexico, the capital of what was known as Alta California was in Monterey. In 1849 California declared itself a free and independent nation. At that time Sacramento drafted it’s first city charter. In 1850, when California became part of the United States, Sacramento was incorporated as the first city of the State of California.

Sacramento became the Capitol of California in 1854. There was a major flood in 1861 that forced the California legislative session to move to San Francisco for one session but that was temporary for the year. Things are always in flux in California. For a long time the governor lived in the Governor’s Palace and then he didn’t, and now he does again. Not to mention the fact that the Sacramento capitol has been the background of many historic moments such as the Black Panthers, the grape strike lead by Cesar Chavez, and the assassination attempt on President Ford.

Today the history of Sacramento continues. There are many things to do in Sacramento and see. Some of our favorite things to do is to visit the Railroad Museum and this last time we were at the capitol we just walked around the grounds to see all the many shops.

US State Capitols: Boise Idaho

Idaho is very green and very vast.

Date Visited: July 6, 2019

Idaho became a state on July 3rd, 1890. Idaho has peculiar history on how it became a state and even more so on how Boise became it’s capitol. US history in Idaho starts with Lewis and Clark passing through the territory now known as Idaho in 1805. There was a bit of controversy with the ownership of the territory as both the United States and the United Kingdom both had claims on the area, though in 1846 the dispute was officially ended with the Oregon treaty, which made Idaho part of Oregon. But then, in 1848 Washington, Montana, and Wyoming got in a land battle with Oregon and started to declare Idaho as their own. This went on until 1853 when apparently Washington won and Idaho became part of Washington. Then gold was discovered in 1860 and Idaho was like “yeah right Washington, as if we are going to share with you!” Washington did not agree but Idaho means “land of many waters” and since Washington gets too much rain anyhow they let Idaho become it’s own territory in 1863 with Lewiston as it’s capitol. It is said that Abraham Lincoln had to personally intervene to make this happen, not sure if it is true but they have a lot of Lincoln stuff in the Idaho Capitol basement, and let’s face it, who doesn’t like Lincoln?!

That was all cool but the first territorial Governor, William Wallace took too to long to get to the capitol (Lewiston) and so another guy name named Caleb Lyon was named in his place. He was smarter than Wallace and he was like “forget going to Lewiston, I am from Boise, so the capitol is now in Boise.” The citizen’s of Idaho were like “Wait, what did you just say?!” and Lyon left the state so that he didn’t have to go to court on the matter. So that left Idaho with a guy named Clinton DeWhitt Smith who was appointed, but the stress of the job got to him and in seven months he literally killed himself by drinking on the job. So a guy named H.C. Gibson came along and revived the government long enough to “loan” himself the enter territorial treasury of $41,062. Meanwhile, Caleb Lyon, who previously left showed up again and said that he was still Governor and then walked away again, but this time he took with him $46,418.40 in Indian Affairs money that was allocated to the the Indian territories (and then he complained when said Indians tried to kill him). It was about this time a group of Idahoans were like “Enough!” so they went to California, used the printing presses in San Francisco, published a constitution and voted them all out by becoming a state (except the dead guy, he remained dead).

Today Idaho has a lot less controversy. Known as the “Gem State,” there are many mining operations in the state, but it is also known as the “Potato Capitol” due to the fact that 1/3 of all the potatoes consumed in the United States are grown within the state. Less known is that Idaho is also the “Lentil Capitol of the World” due to having the largest hops farms in the world.

AJ always wants to be in the center.
Apparently Idaho locks up his advisors.
Idaho Senate Chamber
This picture was taken at 9:30 PM.
The Idaho Capitol is almost completely covered in marble.
Abraham Lincoln intervened to create Idaho.
Family at the Boise State Capitol.
Capitol dome.
Close up of front steps of Idaho capitol.

























Just in case you wanted to know what the Middle of Nowhere looks like.

The state is very big and there are a lot of open spaces where you will probably see more sheep, cows, and horses, than humans. While there we literally went to a town called the Middle of Nowhere. We saw only one human running a very small gas stop. The only other natives appeared to be horses, donkeys, llamas, and a very aggressive bird named the Snaggle Grouse (man was that a pain getting him out from under my car seat).







The state of Idaho values women’s rights. In addition to being one of the first states to give women the vote, the state seal was designed by a women in 1891. Be very careful however how you treat women in the state. Also be warned that there is a state law on the books that says it is a misdemeanor to give any women less than 50 pounds of sweets in the state of Idaho. You’d think that every male in the state would be in prison by now but they make it very easy to stay within the law with all the manifestations of sweet treats available such as chocolate bars, stroopwaffles, huckleberry, and Idaho Spuds that I found at the capitol.

There are rules that must be followed in Idaho. Eating sweets is one of them.








In conclusion Idaho is definitely a unique place unto itself. Some say it is even “out of this world”, but that is a topic for a different blog post.

Video of State Capitol:

Video of Middle of Nowhere:

Springfield, Illinois (Part of Travel Goal #4)

Date Visited: July 03,2018

Front this railroad station Abraham Lincoln gave his last speech to Springfield.

We collect National Park cancellation stamps when we travel within the USA. On the way out from Springfield, Ilinois Denise asked if I could get a quick stamp from the old railway station in Springfield.

I went to the railroad station and the door was closed but the hours on the door said they were open and so was the door so I let myself in. Once inside the historic depot I noticed no one was there so I walked briefly around the depot looking for the stamp and found it at the ticket booth. It was while I was getting the stamp ready I hear this voice…

“Hello”, said the voice.

“Hello,” I replied. Must be a park ranger I thought.

“How are you doing?”

“Good, I just came to get a stamp and then I will be on my way”

“I am going to miss you dearly.”

Wow, this place must not get many visitors.

“I am now on my way to Washington DC.”

What is this guy talking about?! I went to the next room from where I heard the voice. It was at that point that I came face to face with a video projection of an actor portraying Abraham Lincoln, giving Springfield a farewell speech from the station (sadly he never came back). And that is my story on how I had a conversation with Lincoln. I am happy to say Lincoln was a kind host and I was able to get my stamp and continue on my way.

Abraham Lincoln is an interesting character in history because he is so well loved that he is claimed by so many places. He was born in Hodgenville, KY in a simple log cabin, but as an adult he clearly made Springfield, Illinois his hometown.

Lincoln’s home is a modest home but it is yellow, which in the 1800’s was a very expensive color.

In 1839, Springfield had become the new capital of Illinois. In 1842 Springfield was a growing city and was a perfect setting for Lincoln to set up a law practice. Him and Mary were not poor but they did not have a lot of money either. The story goes that when Lincoln arrived he asked the local shopkeeper how much bed sheets were and when he was told they were $17 he had to buy them on credit from his profits as lawyer.

Lincoln’s practice went well and he was soon able to pay off his debit and in 1843 for $1,500 he was able buy a house and a small plot of land. Lincoln’s home started out modest and as his prestidge grew so did the house. Mary Todd Lincoln employed help but she really liked to cook so she had a very nice stove (even though the kitchen itself was small). The highlight of the house was seeing Lincoln’s desk. I can only imagine all the idea he had there.

Unfortunately, Abraham Lincoln never made it back to Springfield alive. After being assassinated, there was a very solemn funeral train back to Springfield in which Lincoln was laid in state at the capitol building and then at the Oak Ridge cemetery in a huge memorial tomb.

The gold inside Lincoln’s tomb was donated by California.

The Lincoln tomb is an impressive structure that features on the outside scenes from the civil war and on the inside impressive amounts of granite and marble. In the first room you will find the model sculpture that is featured at the Lincoln Monument in Washington DC. The dome in the first room is made of palladium which is supposedly one of the more durable metals on the planet. In the burial chamber you will find a big tombstone, which 10 ft. under is buried Abraham Lincoln. They had to bury Abraham Lincoln under 10 ft. of concrete to prevent grave robbers. Also in the burial chambers is the crypts of Mary Todd Lincoln, and three of Lincoln’s four sons, Edward, Willie, and Tad. There is a memorial to the eldest, Robert Todd Lincoln, who is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, which is interesting because if you look close they made a mistake on his birth year and had to correct it (he was born in 1843).  If the tomb looks bigger than it should be it is. It was meant to be a tomb big enough for all of the Lincoln family, but most of the Lincoln family chose to be buried elsewhere so they wouldn’t be overshadowed by President Lincoln’s memory.

The trip to Springfield, Illinois was part of my travel goals. To see all my goals please visit http://goaltravels.com/about/ 

Lincoln’s home is a modest home but it is yellow, which in the 1800’s was a very expensive color.
Lincoln’s bed is modest, it is also noticeable that he had a separate room from his wife.
Lincoln’s desk. I also thought the carpet was very decorative.
Mary’s stove.
Lincoln is eternally in front of the capital building.
I thought it funny that the “cornerstone” was not actually attached to the building.
Inside the capitol.
Springfield dome.
The Springfield Capitol was built with modest funds, which meant they didn’t have money for fancy wood or stone, so they painted everything to make it look fancy.
Front this railroad station Abraham Lincoln gave his last speech to Springfield.
One of the local foods I found was Cracklins, fried chicken skin. It was OK, but I prefer pork grinds.
The gold inside Lincoln’s tomb was donated by California.
If you look close you can see they changed the year from 44 to 43, even though Robert Todd Lincoln was not buried in Springfield.
Outside the Lincoln tomb it shows scenes from the civil war.
There is a tradition that you are supposed to touch Lincoln’s nose. Not sure why, but it is really shiny from all the touching.
Tried White Castle, the oldest fast food restaurant in the USA. Only available in the east coast.