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  • California State Capitol and MuseumCalifornia State Capitol and Museum Sacramento, California
    The California State Capitol Museum encompassed the structures and landscapes of the California State Capitol building that is in Sacramento, California, and has been the place where the state legislature has assembled since 1869. The capitol building went through a major restoration in 1975 that ended in 1982, bringing it back to its former glory and beauty. In this building, visitors can explore the renovated offices of historic value that include the governor of the state, the attorney general, treasurer and secretary of state. It showcases displays, tours and the exciting opportunity to view the legislature in process. Some 40 acres of landscaped grounds and gardens encompass the Capitol Park, that have brought shrubs and trees from across the globe, as well as monuments and memorials that amplify the state's most important moments in history. These include; a life sized statue of Father Junipero Serra, one of the Roman Catholic missionaries that was sent by Spain to assist the colonization of the territory, with a map of the state's 21 missions from Sonoma to San Diego at the bottom of the statue; also a state's Vietnam Veterans memorial, with life sized bronze figures of the service personnel showing life in Vietnam and contains engravings of the names of the Californians killed or missing in action; the California Veterans Memorial, which is a granite obelisk that honors the state's veterans from the Mexican-American War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War. There is a Civil War memorial grove that was planted in 1897, with saplings that came from the many famous battlefields of that costly war; also the California Firefighters memorial that was put up to show honor to the fallen firefighters and the Y-ET-IM TEH-LEI-LI California Indian grinding rock. There is a wonderful replica of the Liberty Bell, as well as a bell from the USS California (BB-44).  The capitol art program takes care of the collected works housed here that include; the permanent collection, the biennial senate contemporary art collection, the loan collection and a large number of antiques and statuary collections that are found throughout the historic west wing and east annex of the capitol. Over 50 paintings are included in the permanent collection with seascapes, still life, landscapes and paintings of scenes from everyday life; with some being gifts and others purchased as money became available. The artworks are displayed in two historic time frames, with those in the west wing coming from the period 1870 to 1910, and those in the east wing coming from 1920 to 1950. In the loan collection, there are over 100 paintings exhibited in the west wing's first floor in the leadership offices and conference rooms. The Senate's biennial California contemporary art collection has come from the contemporary artworks that are found throughout the state and every senator chooses an artist from their district and it is shown for two years in the offices behind the senate chambers. There are two spectacular murals installed on the walls, with one on the west wing basement rotunda, a hypnotic rendering of the state's past and future perceived by the artist Arthur Mathews in 1914 and 1915. There are twelve panels representing the discovery of the state, the gold rush, the mission period, how the state's future might appear and Commodore Sloat coming into Monterey Bay. The other magnificent mural is the one in the east annex on the fourth floor in John L. Burton's room that is three glossy huge murals that were made as part of a WPA project during the great depression that is titled "the Origin of the Name of the State of California. Then in 1931, the legislature authorized a tradition of commissioning portraits of the state's governors and now, there are 36 governors showcased all through the west wing; although the styles are different since each governor is allowed to chose their own artist and between them, the decision is made how to proceed. 

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  • California State Railroad MuseumCalifornia State Railroad Mueum Sacramento, California
    The California State Railroad Museum is located in Old Sacramento, California, and a tribute to the position of the "iron horse" that connected the state to the remainder of the country. It showcases 21 renovated locomotives and railroad cars with a few dating back to the period of 1862. A marvelous diorama of an 1860s construction site that is set high in the Sierra Nevada mountains that feature the locomotive Gov. Stanford; and a bridge that is 27 feet above the museum's floor. There is also a replicated passenger station and freight depot from the era of 1867, located one block from the museum; and during the summer months, there is a steam train that will give visitors a ride from the depot to Miller Park and return along the Sacramento River using the museum's tourist line, the Sacramento Southern Railroad. This rail line owns the deserted Southern Pacific Walnut Grove Branch right-of-way that goes south from the city to the eastern banks of the river. Some track was rebuilt by the levee at Freeport, California as part of a US army corps of engineers project and the museum hopes to enlarge that excursion line, maybe as far as Hood or Walnut Grove. That way, the rail passengers could leave the train and then take a steamboat back up the river to Old Sacramento. The museum began in 1937, when some railroad enthusiasts in the bay area started the Pacific Coast chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society. The group worked for many years to promote the reality of a railroad museum, giving 30 historic locomotives and cars to the state's department of parks and recreation so that it could become the heart of a state operated museum in the city. Their first facility, the Central Pacific Railroad Passenger Station was then opened in 1976 and the museum completed in 1981. A steam powered passenger train service on the Sacramento Southern Railroad started in 1984 and then the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot opening three years afterwards. In 1992, the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown was then added to the museum's complex.  The museum has a fantastic collection of steam and diesel locomotives and cars that are amazing and beautiful in their own way and worth a visit to see these old iron horses that brought this country closer together and still have some great worth taking freight, passengers and commuters to their destinations.

January 11, 2011