We had a tour scheduled at the US Mint for 8:00 am and had to be there by 7:30 am so we were up at 5:30 am to give ourselves time to wake up a bit and make a breakfast sandwich before heading out the door by 6:30 am which had us arriving at the parking garage just about 7:15 am.
We’d reserved a spot at a parking garage near the Mint – $8 for the entire day…not bad. We found the garage fairly easily and squeezed into a spot and then headed to the Mint to wait for our tour to begin.
We didn’t have to wait long before we were admitted to the building but not before going through security…empty pockets into a dish that’s sent through a scanner and then we had to walk through a metal detector. I set the detector off as I went through it and after a couple more passes through with the same results the guard took a wand and ran it over my body…it turned out it was my dang bra setting the alarm off!
We had a very informative tour guide that gave us so much information it was hard to keep it all from swirling around in my head! Just a few of the tidbits he shared with us: When the Mint first started producing coins it took 3 years to make a million coins. Now it takes just 35 MINUTES! Just ONE coin from each batch is inspected to ensure quality is up to par. If that coin doesn’t meet standards the entire batch is rejected and destroyed…that would be roughly somewhere between 7500 and 11,250 coins down the drain!
Just before the tour ended our guide explained that back in the 1930s a bunch of gold bars were moved from San Francisco to Denver to be stored as it was felt that they’d be much safer there. Those gold bars are still at the Denver Mint and are worth about 50 billion dollars! They had 3 gold bars on display and they were worth about 1.5 million dollars! I think I need a bar or two…actually even just a tiny corner would do me just fine!
Did you know that the U.S. Mint is totally self-funded? They make their money by selling the coins to the Federal Reserve for face value. But…it doesn’t take face value to make the coins…here’s a breakdown of how much each coin takes to make: A penny costs 1.5 cents, a nickel cost 8 cents (yikes…kinda in the hole here!)…however…a dime cost 4 cents to create and a quarter costs 10 cents to make.
When our tour was finished we walked a few blocks to the Colorado State Capitol. Our first stop was the cafeteria where we got a little snack – string cheese, peanut butter crackers and a diet coke to share.
After refueling we decided to walk around and check the place out. As we got on the elevator a woman that was already on asked us what floor and I said, “You tell us!”. She was great and told us that on the 2nd floor we could look into windows in the Supreme Court, House of Representatives and the Senate or if we wanted to sit on a session we could go up to the 3rd floor.
We did some peeking into the windows on the 2nd floor but really enjoyed sitting in the gallery in both the Senate and House of Representatives rooms. The Senate never got underway while we sat and waited but when we went back over to the House they were finally in session so we stuck around for a bit and listened in while they voted to amend a bill. Even for me…a non-political type it was interesting to watch.
Next on the agenda was the Molly Brown Mansion…you might remember Molly Brown as one of the Titanic survivors…she was dubbed the Unsinkable Molly Brown. Unfortunately, after our hike to the house we found out that the museum/house was closed on Monday’s! Dang it….and I had even written that on my notes. Oh well…I guess we’ll just have to add that to our list for the next time we’re in the area.
We were able to walk around the house and sat in the back courtyard for a short while. While we were there someone from the museum happened by and told us that the house was purchased in 1894 for $32,000 and when Molly passed away in 1932, during the Great Depression, the house and all of its contents was sold for $6,000!! Can you believe it!?!
Being close to lunch time we headed northwest toward our next stop but first we stopped at Sam’s No. 3…a local diner that has been in business since 1927. The menu offers Mexican, Greek and American and is SUPER extensive! Michael and I both went with an open-faced sandwich (also known as a Manhattan) – I got turkey and Michael had beef. Portions were huge and the food was tasty but maybe a bit too salty.
After getting our fill for lunch we headed across the street to the Money Museum at the Federal Reserve. This was kind of a bummer, actually. All it was was a ‘money wall’…which was actually pretty interesting and then a few wall displays which were kinda boring, There was a 20 minute video that we watched and I don’t even remember what it covered. The highlight was being able to make a bill with our likeness on and then to design it to our liking and then it was emailed to wherever we chose. Unfortunately, I must have miss-typed my email and never got mine but Michael’s came through with no problem!
Finishing up at the Money Museum it was now time to walk back to the parking garage and pick up the truck so that we could drive to the days last stop….Stranahan’s. I’d made reservations for the 5:00 pm tour of the Stranahan’s Whiskey Tour. The rest of our day when pretty quickly so we actually arrived at Stranahan’s about 2:00 pm hoping we could get into an earlier tour and they had no problem with us going on the 3:00 pm tour. We chilled in the truck while our phones charged and then went inside to wait for the tour to begin.
Once again, we lucked out with a good tour guide. Evan was very informative and even funny! We first learned that Stranahan’s has only been in business since 2008…so just a baby in the whiskey business. He explained the process to us as we viewed the huge vats that hold the mash and continued on as we stood in front of 3 huge stills. He showed us what the ‘whiskey’ looks like (crystal clear) after the 2nd distilling and explained that at that point it’s about 140 proof and had us take a whiff to prove it! Wow…strong stuff!
He explained at that the color of the finished whiskey comes from being aged in charred oak barrels and that about 70% of the flavor comes from the barrel itself. The barrels are not reused but sold to wine makers who use them to flavor their wines.
And of course, at the end of the tour we sampled Stranahan’s Original Whiskey…nope…not my thing…I still prefer the candies samples from Hammond’s!
On the drive home we came across 10 or 12 police vehicles in front of a small motel on Colfax Street…on the opposite side of the street that we were driving. Crime scene tape was up, police were standing all over and several media outlets were on the scene.
When we got home Michael looked online to see what had happened and found out that a police officer had shot a suspect from another shooting about 1:30 pm…it was about 4:30 pm when we drove by. Scary stuff. HERE is an article regarding the incident.
We have just two more days here in the Denver area and have decided we’ll definitely be coming back to Colorado in the future….so much to see and do!