The Colorado State Capitol tour was Ruth and my 29th. We were there because of “Atlas Obscura”, which discovered that a controversial mile-high-city step was there. We had been in this capitol before but had never taken the tour. As long as we were there, we checked to learn that a tour was leaving in 20 minutes. We joined it.
The dome was traditional, but there were a couple of unusual things about this capitol. The most interesting subject that our tour guide Harrison talked about was Barney Ford. This capitol building is very ornate inside with lots of elaborate lighting fixtures. According to Harrison, 99% of the world’s supply of Rose Onyx, also called Beulah Red Marble, is in this building. There are 4 pounds of real gold in the dome. Visitors can go up into that dome because there’s an observation deck with fine views of downtown Denver up many stairs. Instead of clear windows, there are 10 stained glass panels in the senate chamber honoring state heroes like Ruth Stockton. Ruth Stockton served 24 years in the Colorado legislature, still the longest tenure for a woman. There’s a stained glass portrait of Barney Ford too.
John Hickenlooper will probably also have a window some day if he doesn’t already. Our tour didn’t get us into the Governor’s Office. Hickenlooper became the mayor of Denver in 2003 and governor in 2011, the first geologist in our nation’s history to run a state and currently one of only 16 Democratic Governors. If you want to learn more about him, his delightfully titled memoir, The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics, is available on Amazon and described as funny.
Harrison called Barney Ford an activist who is probably unknown to you unless you’re in this capitol. He was correct. Born a slave, Ford escaped via the Underground Railroad when he was in his 20s. He married and became a dedicated traveler who tried gold prospecting but was a millionnaire after becoming a Denver businessman/hotelier. One of the wealthiest men in Colorado in the 19th century, Ford was unhappy with a provision that prohibited men like him from voting and delayed statehood for about 10 years. There’s a house/museum devoted to him in Breckenridge and a good-likeness stained-glass window in this capitol building.
The 3 women are part of a large embroidery called Women’s Gold Tapestry conceived by Eva Mackintosh. The woman reaching out to the white rabbit is Denver native Mary Coyle Chase who wrote the play Harvey that ran on Broadway for 4 years.