The Star-News


Capital collection

Sat, Nov 09 2013 12:00 PM Posted By: Richard Peña

We often read in the weather section of the newspaper that we have “threatening skies” or “threatening weather” and no one is exactly sure what that means. We can imagine the weather man hearing thunder in the distance and then looking heavenward and asking, “Is that a threat?” Of course, if he hears another peel of thunder he better take in the patio furniture.  It’s more than a threat.

I thought of this Sunday when I awoke early and came in to my work area to prepare this treatise.  I got up early because I forgot about the time change and looked at the northern skies and they looked “threatening.”

I really had no intentions of writing about the weather. As I reported last week I just have returned from a visit to Sacramento, a place that is noted for weather.  Which is fine.  I don’t think there is anything as pleasant as to walk around the capitol grounds just after or during a slight drizzle. For that matter I don’t think that there is anything more pleasant than walk around the capitol grounds of any of the 50 states. There  seems to be something tranquil and settling about such a scenario.

Shortly after I retired from the school business I got the idea of visiting and photographing all the State Capitals. We were planning a trip anyway and did not think that a little out of the way jaunt would mar the trip too much. At the time I think we had seen only two capitals in our travels. We had lived near Honolulu for nearly three years and a glance at the Iolani Palace was something we made nearly every day. This, however, was before Hawaii became a state so we felt that did not count.  We  had also visited friends in Sacramento, and as first-time tourists we felt compelled to see most of the attractions at our own state capitals, and that, probably included the state capital building though I don’ remember it at all.  On the just completed trip there we saw the Sutter’s museum which I do remember from our first visit.  It is strange how some things are like indelible marks on the memory and others disappear as if expunged with a new bottle of White-out.

The history of the California capital would actually fill a book.  It, in fact, has. California historian, June Oxford, has written a tome titled, “The Capital that Couldn’t Stay Put.”  The title is, no doubt, based on the fact that the legislators governing just after the area achieved statehood could not agree on a spot.  First it was in San Jose and then rather abruptly it was moved to Vallejo.  The story gets complicated at this time.  This, you might recall, was a region —a rather large and important region—just recently admitted to the Union and in true fashion there had to be a bit of jockeying for position. On top of that this was the time of the gold strikes around Sacramento, phenomena that had a tremendous influence.

The state legislatures met twice in San Jose in 1850 and 1851.  The next two years the meeting place was in Vallejo and Benecia and then finally the permanent seat of government’s fifth session was in Sacramento where it has been ever since.

By the way, in my quest to visit all capitals I think I have no more than thirty.  My two chances of finishing this chore are the proverbial slim and none.

If anyone would like to continue this quest just see me.  I have a drawer full of road maps.


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