Washington Monument: The "Milk Bottle"
The "Milk Bottle"
The Washington Monument in Washington County, Maryland, honors "Father of Our Country" George Washington. Located within Washington Monument State Park four miles east of the town of Boonsboro, the monuments sits near the summit of South Mountain's Monument Knob (1540 feet / 470 m).
Built in 1827, it was first Washington monument completed. The Baltimore Washington Monument was completed two years later, although it had been started considerably earlier in 1815. The famous District of Columbia Washington Monument was not completed until 1885. The stone tower was built and dedicated to the first president by the citizens of Boonsboro on July 4, 1827. The tower is 34 feet tall and was built by the citizens of the village of Boonsboro. Its tapering design is said to be that of a Revolutionary War cannon, but is often referred to as a "jug" or a "milk bottle."
The wall is composed of huge stones, many weighing upwards of a ton. A doorway on the east side of the structure leads to a stairway that ascends to an observation deck at the top.
On July 4, 1827, at 7 a.m., most of the 500 inhabitants of the town assembled in the public square. A dedication service was held at noon. The volunteers gathered for lunch, and then work was resumed and continued until 4 o'clock, when the monument stood 15 feet high on a base 54 feet in circumference. Plans were made to complete the tower to a height of 30 feet "after the busy season," and in the fall of that year this was done.
In the ensuing years, the Washington Monument became a popular meeting place, but over the years, weather and vandalism reduced it to a pile of rubble. In 1882, the restoration of the monument was undertaken and carried out under the sponsorship of the Odd Fellows Lodge of Boonsboro. At this time a canopy was added, and a roadway for vehicles was built up the mountainside to the site. A decade later the rugged tower was marred by the development of a crack in the wall. Because it was not repaired, the monument again fell in ruins. In this tumbled down condition the monument served as a Union Signal Station during the Battle of Antietam and after the Battle of Gettysburg while General Lee's army lingered north of the Potomac River.
The original builder's stone inscribed "Built by Isaac C. Lutz 1827," was removed and is now in private ownership.
In 1920, the one acre site was purchased by the Washington County Historical Society, and in 1934 it was deeded to the State of Maryland for use as a State Park. The tower was rebuilt in its present form by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps, who set in place the original cornerstone and a facsimile of the dedication tablet.
The third dedication ceremony was held on July 4, 1936, exactly 109 years after that first day of patriotic activity by the citizens of Boonsboro, which produced the beginnings of the country's first completed monument to George Washington.
The Appalachian Trail, which extends 2000 miles from Maine to Georgia, passes directly east of the monument and is used by visitors going to and from the monument.