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DESTINATIONS The Washington State Capitol Campus

DESTINATIONS The Washington State Capitol Campus

Text and photos by David Yamaguchi
The North American Post


▲Three grand buildings on the State Capitol campus, Olympia (Oct. 1). From Top left, the Legislative Building (1928), the Temple of Justice (1912) and the Insurance Building (1921). The flags were at half-staff to honor the late Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA, deceased Sep. 29). The great shadow approaching the justice building seemed apt for the time.

Perhaps like many a reader, I have driven BY Olympia, our state capitol, many times, en route to outdoor destinations or to Portland. However, I have only STOPPED briefly in Olympia a few times, not long enough to develop a sense of the place.

That pattern changed on October 1, a lovely Sunday, when my travel companion and I stopped there, en route to a nearby nature site, and found that we could park below the front steps of its Legislative Building. Intending to poke around for only a few minutes, we found that the silent, near-empty building was open to the public. Moreover, by chance, a free tour would be starting in ten minutes. How could we not join in?

As background, knowing something about the Washington State Capitol campus is important for NAP readers. One reason is that there, we can see the very rooms where officials like Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, Senator Bob Hasegawa and Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos labor on behalf of all of us.

Additionally, on the tour, one simply learns how it is that Washington State has such majestic buildings. Two interesting facts which I remember from eight weeks ago are that the stone was cut from the best quarries in the world, and that they were shipped by train, in numbered order, so that they could be assembled onsite, block by block, Lego fashion. This was long before there was spreadsheet software to manage such major projects! Further tour details I will leave for the reader to pursue.

Olympia Beer label 1914 Photo Olympia Brewing Co public domain

On Sundays, parking in front of the building is permissible. (According to the staff, you won’t be ticketed.)

Among nearby destinations, locals on our tour directed us to Tumwater Brewery Park, a few minutes away, where salmon were returning. I found the falls there immediately captivating, for all readers of my vintage will recognize it as the one from the Olympia Beer can. Alas, the brewery adjoining the falls closed in 2003.

Mima Mounds Photo Gwen Shigihara her gopher is at right

After the park, if you lack other local destinations on your list, you can follow Google Maps to one of my favorite nature landmarks, the world-famous “Mima Mounds” that few have heard of or visited (“Mounds of Mystery,” napost.com, Dec. 2019).

Daily Public Tours of Legislative Building

Mon – Fri, tours start hourly, 10am-3pm
Sat-Sun, tours start on the half hour, 11:30am-2:30pm
https://www.des.wa.gov/services/facilities-and-leasing-management/capitol-campus/tours

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David Yamaguchi has written for the NAP since 2006, at first as a volunteer, then as a paid freelancer (2016-2020),then as a staff writer/editor (2020-2023). He is presently executive director of the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington (JASSW).