My quest to see all the bells started, accidentally, with the Denver Liberty Bell replica. In 1996 I moved from Philadelphia to Colorado. The following year, I was walking downtown from my apartment in Capitol Hill and decided to cut through the park across from the Capitol building. I came upon a sight as familiar as it was foreign: a full-size, serious-looking Liberty Bell.
Running into familiar sights from my hometown was not a totally new experience. My first week living in Colorado, on my three-block walk to work, I passed a SEPTA trolley car parked in downtown Colorado Springs, then saw another parked behind my office — but that’s another story.
That sunny Colorado day, still unsure if moving so far from home was a good decision, I took the bell as a one-ton sign that I had made the right call. Looking back, I suppose it could have just as well been a sign telling me to get my ass back to Philly, but I’m glad I read it as I did.
Before stumbling across the Denver bell, I had no idea the replicas even existed. I read the dedication plaque and learned of the 50-plus replicas cast by the U.S. Treasury as part of a savings bond drive, thought it was interesting and then went on with my life.
Having no point of context — this being the first replica I had seen — the bell did not strike me as being damaged or neglected. However, in 2014 the Denver Liberty Bell replica was rededicated after a $50,000 restoration effort spearheaded by the Mount Rosa Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.
Some time between 1996 and 2013 the dedication plaques had been stolen. Additionally, the yoke was falling apart, the bearing system was failing and the bell had not been officially rung since 1974. 40 years of exposure to the Colorado elements had taken its toll.
If you want to deep dive and learn how long it takes disassemble, clean and reassemble a bell — here is a detailed scope of work on the restoration process.
Though the Denver bell was my first, I didn’t have my picture taken with it for another 15 years. Six years after discovering the bell in Denver, my quest to see all 55 Liberty Bell replicas would begin in earnest on a road trip to California with visits to the Carson City NV and Salt Lake City UT bells.
While the Cheyenne WY bell is actually closer to my home, my home state bell is a sentimental favorite and I visit it often. Unlike a lot of the bells, the Denver replica is located in a high traffic area and gets lots of love from Colorado residents and visitors alike.