Between Cheyenne and Laramie off Interstate 80 is a small dome sitting in a field next to an abandoned one-room schoolhouse.
It’s the final resting place for one of the two original domes that capped the Wyoming State Capitol in Cheyenne. The fate of the other dome remains a mystery.
The Capitol was built in 1917. Each chamber of the Legislature – House of Representatives and Senate – had a dome, or cupola, built over it. In 1999, the Legislature decided to put a new roof on the Capitol, and both cupolas were removed.
One was shipped to a foundry in Pennsylvania to be used as a model for lighter replacement domes for the roof restoration on the Capitol. What happened to that cupola after the new domes were fashioned isn’t certain, but it was likely salvaged or destroyed.
The second cupola ended up at a salvage yard.
One day Dan Corbin of Cheyenne bought it.
Dan passed away several years ago, but his wife, Peggy Corbin, told Cowboy State Daily the old Capitol dome was too big for the backyard, so they put it in the front.
Santa’s Jet Sled
Jeanette Corbin, Dan’s daughter, told Cowboy State Daily her father repainted it and worked out some of the dents in the gilding that covered the top.
“It was quite the talk of the town there for a while,” Jeanette recalled.
Dan would decorate it for different seasons. At one point, he put a Santa on top with a slide running down the side.
“He called it Santa’s jet sled,” Jeanette said.
While the Corbins loved the yard decoration, not everyone did.
“Our neighbors objected to it, and we had to move it,” Peggy said.
Last Home For The Dome
The Wyoming State Museum had planned to incorporate the surviving cupola into an exhibit. It was going to sit atop a gazebo with a flag mounted on top of the dome.
But the plan fell apart as plans sometimes do.
Dan was restoring a one-room school out on Harriman Road in Granite, west of Cheyenne.
Jeanette said the building is one of the few historic one-room schools in Wyoming and may be the last one standing.
With the neighbors wanting the cupola gone from the Corbins’ yard and the museum plans not taking shape, Dan moved the dome out to the schoolhouse property.
The land it sits on is owned by the Laramie County School District 1.
“I get out there as often as I can,” said Jeanette, who lives in Brush, Colorado.
She said it’s gotten some attention from history buffs, who sometimes go out and take a look at it. At some point, someone put a plaque on the side describing where it’s from and that it arrived at the school in 2005. Below that is a plaque calling the historical piece “Dome On The Range.”
“I know he [Dan] would have been just tickled to death to know that that was out there,” Jeanette said.
Over the past 18 years since the dome arrived at the site the neglect shows. The wooden pallets it once sat upon have long crumbled beneath it, and the base is cracking under the weight of the concrete dome.
Jeanette said she wants to get out to the site to do some restoration of the school and maybe touch up the dome if she can. There’s only so much she can do.
Doing more to preserve the dome would require volunteers to pursue grants, do some fundraising or donate their craftsman skills.
For now, it sits in the scrub brush near a dilapidated outhouse awaiting attention.
“I don’t think it’s going to blow away,” Jeanette said.