We walked back to the Mint and took the tour. They weren’t making coins in the area we got to tour, so we listened to the tour guide. About half the coins they make are pennies, because people keep pennies and don’t put them back in circulation. It costs about 1.7 cents to make a penny, but they cannot stop making them without an act of Congress. At this point it’s more cost effective to buy the blanks than to make them, so they get the copper-coated zinc blanks from another factory, and press them at the Mint. The coins are washed in soap, water and cream of tartar to clean them before pressing. The Mint actually sells the coins to the US government. It costs about 28 cents to make a dollar coin, so they gain 72 cents on every silver dollar they make. They don’t sell the pennies or nickels, but they sell every other coin. They use the money to pay their expenses, such as maintenance, utilities, salaries, etc. Every year there is money left over after paying the Mint expenses and they turn that over to a branch of the government to make a payment on the National debt. Last year they paid a little over a billion dollars on the debt.
Afterwards we walked back to the 16th Street Mall and rode the bus to the end of the line. Nearby we discovered that Denver has an underground bus depot and light rail station. We walked up 16th and stopped in a few stores, such as the Overland sheepskin store, an upscale grocery store and several souvenir shops. Along the way we stopped for coffee, soda and a small banana-caramel bunt cake. At one street corner is a tall tower from the turn of the century that used to be the bell tower for a big Denver department store.
We came back to the RV and found it was still snowing. Randy drove us up to look at the buffalo herd and the local forest in the snow – very beautiful! The buffalo don’t seem to mind the snow, so they continued grazing while those huge flakes drifted down and settled on them.