Our Capitol Hill

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The Utah State Legislature is having special meetings to determine all the details for the upcoming move of the State Prison from Draper to west of the Salt Lake Airport. Grab your wallets and your morals and hide! Utah is known for it’s really short normal legislative session (Jan. 26 to March 12) and for two past Attorney General’s currently being prosecuted for a number of naughty things.

  The Capitol building is a great/free place to visit and is pretty much open every day from @8 a.m. until 6 p.m. unless it’s a state or major national holiday. The building itself took four years to construct during 1912-1916. It was designed by Richard Kletting in the Neoclassical revival, Corinthian style. Funny though, the state capitol was originally in the smack dab middle of the state in Filmore, Utah. It turns out that Salt Lake City was a much better place to bring leaders together in a town with better food, housing and transportation and in 1856 the Utah Territorial Legislature met and decided to abandon poor little Filmore and move to Salt Lake City. For years legislators met in the Salt Lake City Council Hall and by 1909 we were one of the few states that didn’t have a capitol building to show off to visitors. Then Governor Spry was able to eek out $1 million in bonds from the elected officials but needed plenty more money. Oddly enough, more funds came from death taxes.  It appears that when the Union Pacific Railroad Pres. died in 1909, his widow had to pay a 5% inheritance tax to the state of Utah which turned out to be $798,546. That was like a billion dollars back then! Once the money was in hand the land had to be found. The building was almost placed by Ft. Douglas but then put on Capitol Hill. Property owners up there charged the state a fortune to give up their parcels. A giant steam shovel came in, a little train track was built up City Creek Canyon to haul dirt and and another was built to Alta to bring in the granite rock.

    If you go up to the Capitol building for a  visit (the views of the valley are terrific from up there and it’s only 4 blocks straight up a hill from downtown on State Street), go visit the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum next door (west of it) at 300 North Main. Their hours are Fridays from 9-5 but closed Sundays.  It’s a funky little place that stores turn of the century Valentines, hair jewelry and pioneer artifacts.