A section of the Constitution of 1876 provided for the designation, survey, and sale of 3,050,000 acres of public land in the High Plains to pay for the construction of a new Capitol. Governor Oran Milo Roberts selected Norton as commissioner to supervise the survey of that land for the state in July 1879. With surveyors and a ranger escort, Norton made the necessary land surveys, which opened the Llano Estacado to settlement. In his diary (from August to December 1879) and in his letters to Governor Roberts, Norton described the country, the daily camp life, and the flora and fauna that the survey party encountered. In 1880 he was appointed a member of the three-man Capitol building commission, which considered eleven designs submitted for the Capitol, made a survey of various quarries in the Austin area, and studied qualities of various building materials. On February 1, 1882, Norton and another Capitol building commissioner, Joseph Lee, shoveled the first spade of dirt for the beginning of construction. Norton with his two business partners, W.H. Westfall and G. W. Lacy, ended the limestone-granite controversy by donating all the red granite needed for construction from Granite Mountain in Burnet County.
Although Norton had purchased land in the Montopolis area in 1872 and journeyed to Austin to supervise the annual Travis County fairs, he continued to live in Salado. He and his family were living in Austin later, however, and in 1893 he built a large home north of the site of the present Travis County Courthouse. He died on September 28, 1903, in Austin and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery there.
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