Letter to the Editor

A smokestack tops the monument

On the day after the earthquake hit Washington, The Post called the Washington Monument “reportedly the tallest free-standing masonry structure in the world” [“Structural damage will take time to assess,” news story, Aug. 24]. Reports such as that, though persistent, are wrong. The monument lost that title on Nov. 30, 1918, when the last bricks were set atop the smokestack of the Anaconda copper smelter in Anaconda, Mont. Details make the difference.

The massive stack, now a Montana state park and Superfund site, towers 585 feet 1.5 inches tall. That includes a 30-foot-tall concrete base. Above the base, the free-standing masonry stack, built of 2,446,392 custom-made bricks, stands 555 feet 1.5 inches high.

The Washington Monument, whose base is entirely underground, was measured in 1999 as 555 feet 5.9 inches from ground to tip. But its apex is a pyramid of solid aluminum 8.8 inches high. Thus the masonry bulk of the monument rises 554 feet 9.1 inches, 4.4 inches shorter than the masonry stack.

The monument may still claim to be the world’s tallest free-standing stone structure, but the masonry title belongs to a bulkier, less elegant tribute to bygone industry out west.

Carrie Johnson, Arlington

 
Read what others are saying