Friday, September 25, 2009

Des Moines, Capitol of Iowa

Des Moines, with its population of almost 200,000 is the largest city in the state.  It is located just about in the center of the state which made it the choice for the founding fathers when they were deciding where the capital should be.  The first capitol building was located in Iowa City then moved to Des Moines in 1856 as population grew. The second capitol building was an old brick building and not very well built.  Fearing that building would collapse in the near future, the present, much more elaborate structure was built in 1886.  That building, although renovated in 1905, still serves as Iowa’s capitol building.

It is an impressive building with its hand-carved wooden doorways, decorative marble, and immense chandeliers.  Its gold dome is the largest in the nation.

We wanted to do the tour since they are usually very informative and we learn so much more than wandering around on our own.  However, the mid-morning tour was filled with a large group of 7th graders from a neighboring county.  We finally decided to join the group anyway.  As it turned out, we had a great experience.  Because the Governor was not in his office at the time, we got to go in.  We have never been on a tour where we were allowed in the Governor’s office.  We also got to go in the old Supreme Court Chamber.  Perhaps the most awesome thing was the dome.  The guide took us almost to the top.  I don’t know if these areas are normally included in the tour or if we got to go simply because we were with the school group.  In any case, it was pretty fantastic.
Spiral staircase in the 5-story law library
After our tour we had our picnic lunch under a big oak tree on the east lawn.  On our way back to the campground we stopped at Wal-Mart for a few grocery items and filled up with fuel.  We are ready to hit the road again tomorrow.

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