Five Fun Facts About The Wyoming State Capitol
Wyoming celebrates its 129th birthday today with the grand reopening of the State Capitol. Here are five fun facts about the iconic building which was erected three years before Wyoming became a state.
1. It was a lot cheaper to build than it was to renovate. The Capitol was originally built for $150,000, the modern-day equivalent of $4 million. In 1890, the Territorial Legislature authorized another $215,000 for construction of the east and west wings, the equivalent of $6 million in today's money. The cost to renovate the Capitol building in 2017 was $116 million, along with an additional $184 million for improvements in and around the Capitol Square.
2. Like the United States Capitol, the Wyoming State Capitol was constructed with sandstone. The sandstone for our Capitol was mined from quarries outside of Rawlins and Fort Collins, Colo.
3. The gold leaf covering the 146-high copper dome is so delicate, it disintegrates when touched by human hands. Wyoming is one of only ten states with a gold leaf Capitol dome. The copper dome has been replaced several times over the years. One of the old domes, built in 1917, was moved 20 miles west of Cheyenne near the unincorporated town of Granite, where it is now known as the "Dome on the Range".
4. Two replicas of original statues in the Wyoming State Capitol are on display in the United States Capitol, honoring civil rights pioneer Esther Hobart Morris and the legendary leader of the Shoshone tribal Chief Washakie.
5. The State Capitol was not the site where women won the right to vote. Although it is sometimes credited as the site where the world's first woman's suffrage law was enacted, that historic event took place in 1869 at the site of the first Territorial Legislature, which convened near the corner of 17th Street and Carey Avenue in Cheyenne.
The Capitol did host one of the strangest events in the history of American politics. January 20, 1913, the Wyoming House of Representatives was embroiled in a heated debate. What began as a shouting match quickly escalated into an all-out brawl when interim speaker Martin Luther Pratt shoved House Democrat William Wood from his chair. Representatives traded verbal and physical jabs for nearly an hour. One person reportedly smashed a photograph over a rival's head. 45 minutes later, cooler heads finally prevailed and members from both sides of the aisle called for a recess. The next morning, they returned and agreed to strike any reference of the altercation from the official record.