Richards was lying in state in a closed casket until tonight.
Remembrances of her role in Texas circulated through the crowd of admirers.
Austin attorney Carlos Garcia waited in line with his family holding his 3-month-old daughter, Samantha. Garcia says Richards opened the doors of government to minorities and women more than anyone else in Texas. He said quote: "We need to recognize that and honor that and remember it and try and expand upon that."
Richards died Wednesday at her home in Austin of esophageal cancer. She was 73.
The Democrat was governor from 1991-95.
Many of those entering the Capitol, paused to give videotaped remembrances to camera crews arranged by Richards' family. Those tributes will be stored at the Center for American History at the University of Texas in Austin along with Richards' archives.