I read with interest the center front page Tribune article on April 5 ("Ceremony marks 100th anniversary of Utah Capitol cornerstone," Tribune, April 4) in which the sitting and a former Utah governor "praise a small state for building a magnificent structure."
When elected officials engage in curious historical theater, it appears that any praise of the absent and deceased is expected to redound to present company.
The magnificence of the Utah State Capitol may have had something to do with courage. However, on March 1, 1901, Utah received a check for $798,546.85 from the estate of E.H. Harriman, the Union Pacific railroad tycoon. Mr. Harriman lived in New York, but managed to declare his estate taxes in Utah — avoiding higher taxes back home.
According to Utah’s own website: "This payment formed the basis for building a capitol building." Without the extra cash, one can only suspect the Utah Legislature would have settled for something less than magnificent.
The small state’s "courage" appears to have been stiffened by this timely but rather random windfall.
Salt Lake City
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