The Washington Monument reopened in May 2014 after a 33-month long renovation following the August 2011 earthquake that damaged the memorial. Now, the NPS is also going to open the stairs!
The NPS announced that starting this month, September, tickets will be available for purchase through Recreation.gov for $15 ($12 with a $3 handling fee) for adults. The Staircase tours will be led each day at 10am and 2pm for a limited time this Fall.
The tour begins on the 500′ level and then you begin your walk down the 896 steps to see the 197 stones.
There are fewer stones above the 300′ level, and the highest stone in the Monument is Alaska’s. Installed in 1982 and made from green jade with an outline of the state and the name Alaska in gold leaf lettering. At the 340′ level you see the (in)famous Vatican stone (actually a replica) made from carrera marble that reads ‘A Roma Americae’ — ‘From Rome to America’. There are many stories about the stone, but essentially the original stone was stolen and never found. The replacement stone was installed in 1982.
At the 280′ level there are stones from Masons of Florida and the Hibernian Society of Baltimore, and the next level down there’s a stone form the Odd Fellows of Kentucky. The State stones generally follow the order in which they were admitted into the Union, and on 330′ is New Mexico, 320′ is Arizona, and Washington is at 310′.
Other interesting stones include the City of Washington stone at 250′, which was dedicated in 1850 by President Zachary Taylor. There is a stone at 220′ from the Cherokee Nation, a stone at the 240′ level “From Braddock’s Field” — a reference to the beginning of the French and Indian war and the death of Major General Braddock.
There are lots of stories that are a part of the tour, which takes about an hour and half. It gives you a great sense of the early history of the newly-formed nation. I think one of the most touching parts about the memorial is that all the stones are gifted to George Washington or are they are there to memorialize and honor George Washington.
Highlights from the tour are below: