Piece Of Arkansas In Washington

The Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., when it was completed in 1888, was the tallest structure in the world at just over 555 feet 5 1/8 inches tall. It lost that title to the Eiffel Tower the very next year. It is still the world's tallest stone structure, the tallest obelisk, and taller than any other structure in D.C. It's been in the news lately due to the damage it suffered during the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the Washington area on August 23, 2011.

The monument was designed by Robert Mills and construction started in 1848. However, it was not completed until 1884, 30 years after his death. If you look close, you can see a slight difference in color of the marble starting at about 150 feet up because construction was stopped for a number of years due to the Civil War and a lack of funds.

While short on funds, somebody unknown to history, came up with the wonderful idea of soliciting blocks of marble from the different states and other sources. In all, 188 stones were shipped from around the world and used in building the monument. One state that contributed a large block was Arkansas. The block was used inside the monument and it can still be seen and easily recognized as you go up the stairs. How do you recognize it? Well, it has "Arkansas" carved in big, block letters on it!

Stone marker on the hill marks the spot.
A stone mason named Peter Beller moved to Arkansas from Alabama in 1833. In 1834,he and three brothers with the last name of Harp dug a 4' X 3' X 2' hunk of marble out of a hill beside Arkansas Highway 7. The stone was hauled on a sledge by a team of twenty oxen sixty miles across the Ozark and Boston Mountains to the Arkansas River. It was sent by barge to New Orleans, then by sail to the Potomac Basin and on to the monument.

Around 1840, Peter acquired the land  and built a mill at the site. Although never officially named, Beller's Mill prospered and grew until the civil war, when the men were pressed into service and their families fled to larger towns to escape attacks by bushwhackers, scalawags and other assorted ne'er do wells.

Inscription on the marker.
In 1870 a man named Willcockson set up another mill there, and a town grew which bore his name. Mineral waters and healing springs contributed to the town's prosperity. Advances in medicine in the 20th century reduced the flow of visitors, and the town faded. Albert Raney and Sons bought the land, changed the town's name to Marble Falls, and diverted the cold mountain spring water into a trout hatchery, which they operated for over 20 years. In the late 1960's, a group of Harrison businessmen bought the trout farm and built an amusement park around it. The theme park was based on characters and locations invented and popularized by Al Capp in his daily comic strip "Li'l Abner." To promote the park, the name of the town was changed again, to "Dogpatch."

If you didn't know, you would never know 
as you drive by.

So where exactly did this Washington Monument chunk of marble come from? Right across the road from the now closed Dogpatch Amusement Park. Other than a small stone marker with a plaque on it, the hill looks just like all the other hills in this area. In fact, if you don't stop to see the marker, you'll drive right past and never know that a piece of this hill is part of an American icon.