After a great Winnebago rally we left Forest City on Sunday and headed to Des Moines, Iowa’s state capital. Along the way we continued to see corn, silos and wind turbines. The corn was still not quite as high as an elephant’s eye, but it did seem to be crying out for rain. Everything is so dry!
Our campground was the Walnut Woods State Park in West Des Moines. The park has the largest natural stand of black walnut trees in North America. There were also signs forbidding the collection of black walnuts in the park.
Our main reason for coming here was to visit Des Moines. On Monday we made the short drive into the city. The California Gold Rush once brought people here who stayed rather than continuing west. The state capital was moved here from Iowa City in 1857. Much of the economic and political action revolves around agriculture and the grain market.
Our first stop was the state capitol building and it is one of the prettiest we have visited. We had read that it was beautiful and it did not disappoint! The capitol building is located on a hill surrounded by a 160 acre park with several monuments.
The main dome is covered with 23 carat gold leaf and is flanked by four smaller domes. The gold leaf covering the dome is so thin that 250,000 sheets pressed together would only measure one inch thick. The building was begun in 1871 and completed in 1886.
The main dome, rising 275 feet above the Capitol grounds, is currently undergoing renovation and is covered with scaffolding.
The interior is made of 29 types of marble and has ornately decorated ceilings and corridors as well as beautiful paintings and statues.
There is a scale model of the battleship Iowa which is currently docked in the Port of Los Angeles. Bill toured the battleship in 2014 (see that blog here) when we were out west. One of the battleship’s two bells, weighing 1,000 pounds is also on display.
The capitol building had a glass display case of dolls representing all of the Iowa first ladies in their inaugural gowns.
We could have taken a guided tour but we picked up a guide pamphlet and did our own self guided tour. The lady at the information desk told us to be sure and go into the law library. It is not something we probably would have thought to visit but we sure were glad we did. It was amazing with iron grillwork circular staircases at each end of the library. Absolutely beautiful!
We walked around the grounds and saw a small replica of the Statue of Liberty and the Liberty Bell. Did you know each capital city in the United States has a replica of the Liberty Bell somewhere in their city?
Next: John Wayne’s hometown Winterset IA