Today we toured Washington’s State Capitol in Olympia.
From grade level the top of the lantern rises 287 feet and from the base of the Dome to the top of the Lantern it is 102 feet , making it the fifth tallest masonry dome in the world and tallest in the Western Hemisphere, and only surpassed by St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome (446 feet), St. Pauls’ Cathedral in London (355.5 feet); Global Vipassana Pagoda in Mumbai, India; and Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy.
Entering the building from the South, you climb 42 steps, representing Washington as the 42nd state to enter the Union. From the North, you climb 45 exterior steps, but when the three landings are excluded, it is also 42 steps.
Detailed bronze sculptured entrance doors at top of the steps on the North side depict Washington history (on the right above the building is the first state capitol building)
Panel on the left represents Washington's first territorial capitol
Once inside, two large bronze statues greet you, replicas of Washington State’s two statues in the U.S. Capitol Building’s Statuary Hall.
Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart (1823 – 1902) was a Canadian Religious Sister who led a group of the members of her congregation to the Pacific Northwest. There, under her leadership, they established a network of schools and healthcare to service the American settlers in that new and remote part of the country. As architect and artist, she was responsible for designing some of the buildings and supervising their construction. She undertook aggressive fundraising tours, braving the mountains and wilderness on horseback.
Marcus Whitman (1802 – 1847) was an American physician and missionary in the Oregon Territory. Along with his wife, he started a mission to the Cayuse in what is now southeastern Washington state in 1836. The area later developed as a trading post and stop along the Oregon Trail, and the city of Walla Walla, Washington developed near there. In 1843 Whitman led the first large party of wagon trains along the Oregon Trail to the West, establishing it as a viable route for the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who used the trail in the following decade. Settlers encroached on the Cayuse near the Whitman mission. Following the deaths of all the Cayuse children and half their adults from a measles epidemic in 1847, in which the Cayuse suspected the Whitmans' responsible, they killed the Whitmans and 12 other settlers in what became known as the Whitman Massacre. Continuing warfare by settlers reduced the Cayuse numbers further and they eventually joined the Nez Perce tribe to survive.
Looking down when reaching the second floor, is an inlay of the Washington State Seal …
Looking up you can see the interior dome which is 165 feet above.
Hanging beneath the Rotunda Dome from a 101 foot-long chain that weighs 3,000 pounds is an ornate 25 foot-long chandelier weighing 10,000 pounds, with over 200 lights and large enough to contain a Volkswagen Van.
In the four corners of the Rotunda are Roman-style Firepots (in ancient time it was lit when the Senate was in session)
A view of the Rotunda from the fourth floor
from behind its protective, decorative railing.
Capitol Reception Room
Washington’s State Flag for a brief period of time
Rare 42-star US Flag. While new flag designs are flown, first over the US Capitol, Under the Flag Act, that new flag designs should become official on the first July 4th (Independence Day) following admission of one or more new states. However, after Washington became the 42nd state on November 11th, 1889, Idaho became the 43rd state prior to the following July 4th
Governor’s Formal Meeting Room
Supreme Court Chamber
As with other capitols we’ve visited, the grounds are a treasure trove of historical monuments, although this was the first capitol where we’ve not seen a replica of the Liberty Bell.
Law Enforcement Monument
Since 1855, 34 years before Washington Territory became a state; over 275 law enforcement officers have been killed. The individuals whose names are carved into the Memorial must be law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty.
Modeled after the Fountain is copied after the Trivoli Fountain in Copenhagen, Denmark, the 50 foot diameter fountain features an outer ring of 540 jets which create an umbrella of water, and inside of this are two rings of vertical spray jets rising out of large, tulip-shaped copper tubs. In the center of the fountain is its most striking feature, a central spout that shoots water approximately 25 feet into the air. All of the sprays alternately rise and fall together, creating five different artistic water displays while circulating 600 gallons of water a minute.
Medal of Honor Memorial
Its inscription reads, "In gratitude to those who sacrificed their freedom in the service of our country we, the citizens of the State of Washington, dedicate this monument to honor all former American prisoners of war, those still missing, and those Americans who may still be held prisoner. National POW/MIA Recognition Day, September 16, 1988."
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Etched into the wall are the names of the 1,123 Washingtonians killed or missing in the war, positioned in such a way that they can be touched and read by all, including children and those in wheelchairs. The names are listed chronologically by date of death from July, 1963 to May, 1975 beginning on the right side of the wall and continuing left around the memorial.
Korean War Memorial
The two-ton bronze statue features three weary-faced GI’s of different nationalities huddled around a pile of sticks in the rain, with one soldier attempting to light a fire. Behind the figures fly 22 flags, representing each of the nations that joined the U.S in the war effort. In front of the bronze statue are stone tablets with the names of those Washington soldiers killed in battle. On either side of the memorial are plaques designed to educate viewers about the war.
World War II Memorial
Kogan, a Russian immigrant of Jewish descent, had always dreamed of building a commemorative work for this war that affected him so personally. His design was inspired by the first stanza of the song "America the Beautiful," and features a cluster of five, 14-foot high bronze blades, which bend into a form mirroring the shape of the capitol dome that looms behind. Each blade symbolizes one of the military units employed in the war and features shadowy images of servicemen. Upon close inspection, one finds that the ghost-like figures are actually formed using the etched names of Washington state’s war casualties.
Winged Victory – World Wat I Monument
The Winged Victory Monument, honoring those who served in World War I. The four human figures appear to be marching away from the Capitol Group toward the distant horizon in the east. Winged Victory, or Nike, holds an olive branch in her right hand, extended over the heads of her "chosen ones." The bronze figures stand on an approximately 10-foot tall granite base, inscribed on four sides with words honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the First World War
From the Capitol we drove down one of the few main streets running through the charming city of Olympia toward the weekly Farmers’ Market, little more than a couple of miles away. Enroute we stopped at Sylvester Park to see the Old State Capitol building.
Unfortunately, as the building is presently used for state educational offices, there are no tours available.
Across the street stands a statue of John Rankin Rogers (1838-1901), the third governor of the state of Washington.
Rogers was elected to the Washington House of Representatives in 1895 as a Populist, and governor the following year as a member of the People’s Party before switching his affiliation to the Democratic Party, Rogers was elected to two consecutive terms in 1896 and 1900, but died before completing his fifth year in office. As governor he supported the "Barefoot Schoolboy Act" which he had first sponsored while in the state legislature. The Act provided a mechanism of state funding to equalize support for free public education between counties which had a large tax base and those without.
Along Olympia’s Capitol Way hung beautiful red, white and blue hanging flower baskets.
Here, too, we spotted several dramatic wall murals.
After walking the Farmers’ Market, where some flower arrangements caught our eye,
we grabbed lunch and again had a chance to meet and talk with several delightful strangers … something people too often fail to do when close to home.
From there, Port Pier was just a short walk to Port Pier where we were able to look back over the city’s marina at the Capitol to the south
Embedded along the textured concrete and textured sandstone accents are over 600 bronze pieces which depict the history of Olympia and the Port, artifacts representing Port tenant businesses and elements of the marine environment clams.
Heading back to our car, another spectacular bloom
We then headed for Tumwater Falls Park where we passed the so-called Crosby House.
Tumwater Falls are a series of cascades on the Deschutes River in Tumwater, near where the river empties into Budd Inlet, a southerly arm of Puget Sound in Olympia. Tumwater Falls was the site of the first European settlement in Western Washington. It was also the site of the now-defunct Olympic Brewing Company. Olympia Light and Power Company constructed a dam and a hydroelectric power plan at the falls in 1890. The plant powered an Olympia–Tumwater streetcar, among other things. A dam at 82 feet above sea level created a head for the powerhouse and still stands on the Deschutes River.
The Tumwater Falls created an impassable barrier to salmon until 1952, when a fish ladder was built by the Washington Department of Fisheries to provide salmon access to the newly constructed fish hatchery located immediately above the falls. Prior to the 1952 hatchery operations, the Deschutes river above the Tumwater Falls was a river system free of the influence of migrating and spawning salmon, an unusual ecological occurrence in the riparian systems of Puget Sound.
What really amazed us is the number of people wandering through the falls with their heads down looking at their smart phones and playing Pokémon Go. They were so caught up in this silly game these people weren’t looking at the falls, the river, the totem pole, old brewing building or anything else around them nor were most paying attention or talking to the friends or family with whom they were traveling. These people need to wake up, get a life and smell the roses!
After a grocery run, we returned to our campground where we later took an after dinner walk and discovered both a colorful stump planter
Over the years, between business and our retirement travels, I’ve had the opportunity to drive in all fifty states as well as ten of Canada’s provinces/territories … including every major metropolitan area in the country. While the Seattle’s North-South Interstates (I-5 and I-405) are among the most congested, whether at rush hour or mid-morning, the Washington State drivers are the most courteous.
Seriously, nowhere else we’ve traveled have more drivers used directional when changing lanes, yielded to a motorhome on the highway when entering from an entrance ramp or fell into line rather than racing up breakdown lanes when roadways are narrowing from 3 to 2 or 2 to 1 lanes.