CHEYENNE, Wyo. – In the hot July sun at Harold F. Johnson Masonry, 5th generation mason Don “Dog” Jones has laid out the beginnings of what will be pedestals for Bronze statues which will go up Capitol Ave.
Though technically retired, Jones works on the pedestals with the same care and precision that he had when he worked on the Capitol Building and the Supreme Court years before.
Jones began laying bricks at 12 years old for 50 cents an hour. “I started in ’73 as an apprentice,” Jones continues, “it’s a job that you can be proud of.”
Jones has had a long history of bricklaying and masonry in both Laramie and Cheyenne and takes immense pride in his work. “My dad taught me to be a perfectionist,” Jones said, “So when I get done with a job I don’t have to worry about the architect being displeased because my dad always taught me that you do the job right.”
Jones’s work can be seen throughout the City, from the Capitol building to the Depot.
“For the Capitol, I did the front steps on the south elevation. I’ve done all that stonework that was the pavement going into the sidewalk,” he said, “And then we did work down at the Union Pacific depot where they had taken the bathrooms out and we had to take the stone walls out and bring up the walls, re-chisel the faces, put them back in so we could keep them original.”
With his credentials spread throughout the city, the Capitol Avenue Bronze Project reached out to him to ask if he would create the pedestals for the statues to sit atop.
“My dear friend and colleague, Bob Claire, retired structural engineer from Cheyenne, and he gave me a call,” Jones remembers, “He said remember these last statute bases you build it? I said yeah, I build every one of them in town. He says they want to build 27 more. So what do you think? I said, well, yeah, but we need to do a couple of drastic changes to this.”
The changes Jones is referring to are to prefabricate the bases instead of the original method of having to build on the street corners around steel posts set into the ground.
Jones makes the pedestals so that, when the statues are placed on top, they will all be 59 inches off the ground. Each pedestal is crafted from man-made stone and reinforced with concrete blocks on the inside. In the end, the pedestals will be mounted to the ground with posts, making it so that if they are hit by a vehicle, they will not move.
When asked why he has come out of retirement to work on these pedestals, Jones said “I came here in 86 and you know, it took about five years to get used to Cheyenne because I am from Laramie and missed the mountains. But now Cheyenne is my town, it’s just a friendly town.”