On a trip to see some friends and visit the State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa, we decided to spend a few nights in Nebraska and check out their capitol in Lincoln. The Nebraska State Capitol is often known as the “Tower on the Plains,” and its 400-foot tower can be seen as far away as 30 miles The structure is anchored by a three-story, 437-foot square base which houses offices on the first floor , The second floor (main floor) is home to the office of the Governor of Nebraska, the Nebraska Supreme Court, the Nebraska Court of Appeals, and the Nebraska Legislature. From the center of the base, a tower rises 362 feet crowned by a gold-tiled dome. The finial—The Sower and its pedestal—add an additional 32 feet to the building’s height. Common measurements list the capitol at 400 feet making it the second-tallest U.S. statehouse, surpassed only by the 450-foot Louisiana State Capitol. We were definitely able to see it from I-80.
We pulled into the parking lot and I was impressed at how nice the grounds looked. We parked and took a few pictures before we headed in. The most impressive thing we couldn’t see from the freeway was the Lincoln Monument. Located on the capitol’s west grounds, it is an 8.67-foot bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln. Definitely take time to see it if you are at the capitol.
We were lucky that a tour was just getting started so we were able to tag along. It is a very interesting capitol, and we found out some very interesting info from our tour guide. First we found out that Nebraska is the only state in the Union with a Unicameral for a Legislature (meaning they have a one-house Legislature instead of a two-house legislature).
Second the city of Lincoln was originally called Lancaster until it became the capital in 1867 and it was renamed Lincoln. The tour guide also told us that the city was not named Lincoln in honor or respect of Lincoln, but in spite of him. The proposed capital site was met with great vigor
by those living south of the Platte. They were determined to place the capital on their side of the river. In an attempt to block the selection, a legislator from north of the Platte moved that the new capital city be renamed “Lincoln,” knowing that many south-Platters had been political opponents of the Great Emancipator. When the motion was promptly seconded by a key anti-Lincolnite, both the site and the capital city’s name were settled. Gene and I both thought the history lesson was quite fascinating.
Besides the Chambers (which I love seeing) one of the most captivating areas of the Lincoln Capitol building was the Rotunda. The floor plan of the Capitol is a cross within a square and the Rotunda, 112 feet tall, is located at the intersection of the arms of the cross in the center of the building.
However, the best part of visiting the Lincoln Capitol was seeing the views from the Observation Deck on the 14th Floor. We have definitely been in higher buildings during our travels, but I always like seeing new cities from a different perspective. It was quite interesting looking around at all the different views of the city.
Like I said earlier, it is an interesting capitol with a lot of history (as they all do I guess) and should be on your to do list when in the area. They give free tours daily every hour on the hour, expect at noon. Here is a link to their website
if you want to learn more about the Lincoln State Capitol.
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