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A short trip from Rockford, IL to Madison, WI

semi-overcast 69 °F

(Sunday) Since the trip from Rockford to Madison involved about an hour I spent a leisurely morning in the parking lot of Wal-Mart, Rockford. Check-in time at the Badgerland Campground just south of Madison was 1:00 pm so after fueling I didn't get on the road until noon or after. I mentioned in my last blog about traveling across IN, IL and observing the vast farmlands of corn and soybean crops. Literally, as far as one could see were these fields of vegetation. They extended on into WI as I crossed the IL-WI state line but about 20 miles north toward Madison began the rolling, lake country that Wisconsin is noted for. Their license plates say, "America's Dairyland". My travel literature says there are 15,000 lakes in WI, about the same as MN. The campground I chose is a very nice one with spacious campsites, a swimming area, and is very well maintained. My neighbors are from California and Texas. After getting set-up I took a short nap then drove into Madison, a short 12 miles. A mid-sized city (pop. 250K), it is easy to navigate. Being Sunday the traffic was light which made finding the Capitol and museums of interest not difficult. The "Capitol Square" area where the government buildings are located has one-way streets with painted stripes dividing the roadways. One side is for autos, the other half for bicycles and buses. Being a university town promoting the progressive agenda of reducing our carbon footprint and encouraging healthy exercise, it all makes sense, I guess. Speaking of the University of Wisconsin, I drove around the huge campus of 933 acres (student pop. 44K). A land-grant university dating back to 1866, it is recognized today as a leading center for research with expenditures exceeding $1 Billion annually. Very frankly, I found the campus to be a mish-mash of architectural designs and unattractive aesthetically. That, of course, is no reflection on the quality of the institution. As with all Division I sports, Badger Football, Badger Basketball, etc. command much attention.

(Monday) The State Capitol building is open Mon-Sat. The State Museum is closed on Mon and open Tues-Sat. I, therefore, concentrated on the magnificent capitol building. The first one was built in Belmont, WI (1836) before Statehood, a territorial capitol part of the Northwest, Indiana, and Michigan territories. WI was admitted to Statehood in 1848 as our 30th state. The present location was chosen and named for President James Madison with no town at its chosen location. Once construction began the town followed. Like many other state capitol buildings fire destroyed the first two. The present building was constructed from 1909-1917.

Of the 25 capitols visited so far Wisconsin's ranks among the 3 most spectacular, the other 2 being PA & NY. The state enjoys a heavy concentration of immigrants from Scandinavia, Germany, France, and Italy. The immigrants' pride shown toward their adopted country (USA) and state (WI) strongly influenced the classical Beau-arts design of this building. The architect was Italian and he incorporated in the building 43 varieties of stone from Italy, Greece, Algeria, France, Minnesota, Tennessee, Vermont, Illinois, Wisconsin - to name a few. The capitol dome sits in the center of an "X" with legislative wings built in N,S,E,W directions ( most others are 'cross-shaped'). It measures 284' in height and atop sits a 15 1/2 ft, 3 ton, gilded bronze statue with a badger sitting upon its head! The dome is the only granite dome in the USA, covered with Bethel White Granite from Vermont and supported by 2,500 tons of steel framework. The beauty of the interior is difficult to describe in its splendor. Strongly influenced by the Italian architect it resembles Venetian palaces. Marble, hand-carved wood, & gold leaf gilding is used throughout. Mosaics (12' x 24'), each composed of 100,000 pieces of glass, representing the topics of Legislation, Government, Justice, and Liberty are mounted on the interior walls of the rotunda. The apex of the rotunda sits 200' above the floor. To fully appreciate what I have feebly attempted to describe I would suggest going on line to: Wisconsin's State Capitol. You will be amazed.
Tomorrow, I will visit the museums of interest and report on those. Until then............

Posted by dixter 15:59 Archived in USA Tagged building capitol magnificent

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