You immediately get a feeling of what’s important in this part of Oklahoma, when you see the state capitol grounds. Just a few hundred feet away from the rotunda stands an oil derrick. OKC sits atop a rich pool of black gold, Texas tea, so you’ll be seeing a lot of drilling and pumping equipment around town.
Even though the Oklahoma State Capitol building dates back to 1919, the dome that sits atop it is just a few years old. During construction of the building, money ran low, and the state couldn’t afford a dome. So, they added a saucer-shaped top to fill the hole. Everyone was more or less content with the saucer until the late ’90’s, when the state started looking forward to its centennial (which was approaching in 2007). In 1999, fundraising for a $21 million dome begun, and in 2002 (on the state’s 95th birthday), the dome was complete.
As it turns out, I had stumbled into the capitol building on a day when mental health advocates were rallying for increased funding from the state. Since the building was packed with people, I didn’t get to stay long or see much.
Note: This trip was first published in 2008.