published Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Welcome repairs to Washington Monument

Whether or not you have been to Washington, D.C., you surely are familiar with the famed Washington Monument, honoring the first president of the United States, George Washington.

Construction on the monument, the world's tallest obelisk, started in 1848. But lack of funding and the War Between the States delayed completion until 1884, resulting in a difference in the color of the marble about 150 feet from the ground.

Visitors to the monument had quite a scare last month, when an East Coast earthquake shook and damaged the structure. That forced the closing of the monument, which is 555 feet 5 and 1/8 inches tall. It remains closed for the time being, though it is apparently structurally sound.

A helicopter inspection revealed a 4-foot-long, inch-wide crack in the top of the monument, so light showed through, with rain leaking inside. There were some smaller cracks, too.

The National Park Service plans to seal the cracks to halt leaks and prevent deterioration.

Those repairs to the stately monument -- and the structure's eventual reopening -- will be welcome.

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