The Monument is a column rising from the center of Mount Vernon Place. It has a statue of George Washington at the top. For a few dollars, you can climb to the top and see most of Baltimore.

One time, I was taking this girl from DC around Baltimore when we happened to pass by the Monument. She burst out laughing and said something like "I thought *ours* was phallic". The one in DC is indeed phallic, but the one in Baltimore is shaped *exactly* like a penis.

Father Of Our Country, indeed.
By law the tallest structure in Washington, D.C., the Washington Monument stands 555 feet 5.125 inches in height. There are 897 steps to the top, but an electric elevator brings visitors all the way up in seventy seconds (free tickets are required). Marble taken from Maryland was used in building the monument, but only 153 feet were completed before the Civil War and lack of funding brought construction to a half for 25 years. When it resumed, a marble slightly different in tone was used, causing a noticeable ring around the structure.


When people hear the phrase "the Washington Monument" they generally picture the towering structure in D.C. with it's own reflecting pool. It is the most widely known monument, but it is not the monument, and it was certainly not the first to be erected in honor of our nation's first president. That honor lies west of the city, in the portion of Maryland that capitol dwellers often sneer at and look down upon as filled with farmland and mullet wearing bumpkins. I'm willing to bet that 95% of Maryland's residents, and a hefty portion of the politicians that work in the capitol for that matter, have no idea that a little town called Boonsboro holds the title of the home of the first monument to George Washington.

On July 4, 1827 the people of Boonsboro came together and decided to construct a monument to the first president. They didn't make this decision in one day, no the date was obviously chosen for its importance to history. However they did manage to build the entire monument in one day, all but the foundation, at least, which was layed out the previous day. Yes, on July 4 over 500 people gathered in the town square at roughly 7:30am and marched behind an American flag and a fife and drum corps two miles to the top of South Mountain.

The site was chosen because it had plenty of rocks available. Remember now this was 1827, they didn't make a whole lot out of brick back then, it was primarily stone construction. Anyone who visits this area is sure to notice the remnants of stone fences, houses and other buildings scattered about in different towns. Some are still used, some have been restored, but many are crumbling reminders of our state's rich history.

The 500 Boonsboro citizens gathered at the selected place and the men set to work while the women provided water and food. At noon a dedication service was held, a cold lunch served and then work continued. At 4pm their hard work was complete. They had constructed a monument fifty-four feet in circumference at its base, and thirty-four feet tall out of large granite rocks that at times weighed nearly a ton. Since there were no sources of water available for mortar, the granite was carefully selected and cut to fit the circular wall. Stone steps were added on the inside that extended to the top, making it possible for those that ascended to see all of the valley below.

When it had been completed the Declaration of Independence was read from the steps of the monument, and three veterans of the War of Independence climbed the tower and fired a three-round salute.

Fifty years after it was built the tower fell to ruins. In 1882 it was again in the hands of it's citizens who decided to restore it to its original glory. A canopy was added and a railway was built to the monument. However the construction wasn't stead fast and ten years later a crack developed in the wall. This time it went unrepaired and again, fell to ruins. Then in 1920 the Washington County Historical Society bought the land upon which the monument stood and in 1943 they deeded Washington's monument to the state. The Washington State Park, upon which the monument resides, is around 108 acres of wooded mountain containing the monument, a house in which the superintendent lives, an exhibit center and a playground and picnic area. Finally, 109 years after its original construction, the monument was restored to its original design, and on July 4, 1936 a third dedication took place.

The Appalachian Trail passes right by the monument, so those adventurous explorers who opt to travel the length of it will have a chance to see the first monument resurrected in honor of George Washington. I highly recommend stopping by if in the area, as you will enjoy a wonderful view and a peaceful experience while there.

The Story of Washington County, by Mary Micheal. Library of Congress, 1993.

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