Ch. 8 — A Monument to the Real George W.

Meantime, back at the ranch, Russell is our ‘driver,’ and, after a trip to the newspaper to synchronize the clocks and the corporate chronometer, he heads the System off in the direction of the northeast quadrant of the United States.

His target on this occasion is the nation’s capital, in the District of Columbia, and the obelisk known as the Washington Monument, named for our nation’s first president.

Once on site, Russell now needs to back up from the present day to the time when the memorial was still in the construction stage.

From the Internet, on Dianne’s mobile, the group has learned that an engraving on the obelisk indicates that the first block laid at the second attempt at the 45-meter level was set in place on August 7, 1880. So Russell enumerates “‘1-8-8-0’ and ‘ENTER.’”

The effect, once more, is immediate. The truncated Washington Monument stands before them at the 45 glorious meters of its height in the early part of the year 1880. The surrounding area also reflects drastic change. Many famous Washington buildings of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries disappear in an instant. Others diminish greatly in size, as well as in appearance. America has returned to its third-world origins. (Please see Appendix I for detailed information relating to the resumption of construction and completion of the obelisk.)

The watch helpfully shows that the date has changed to January 1, 1880. Ladybird dutifully notes the arrival by ‘1-8-8-0’ and ENTER, and that this ‘stop’ qualifies for future use as a DELTA stop.

Buckminster arrives back in the recreation room in time to catch the action beside the Potomac River.

By keying forward in time to August 6, 1880, Russ is able to isolate the initial railway wagons loaded with blocks, when they first arrived at the site from the granite quarries in Maine and New Hampshire. These are the large stone blocks that will be the main interior support for the monument. To those blocks located on the exterior of each course, marble facings will be attached, which will give the Monument its special appearance.

Colonel Thomas L. Casey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has received an assignment to complete the huge monument. In order to facilitate delivery of the huge blocks of stone, he has had feeder railway lines built right up to the monument, to eliminate repeatedly handling the heavy blocks on-site.

Workers locate the first railcar against a dock sporting a block and tackle. Each stone is carefully lifted off the wagon. The block and tackle swings one hundred and eighty degrees, and ever so gently, the stone is placed on a flat-topped cart fitted with lengths of 10 x 10cm (4 x 4 inch) timber to hold the block away from the cart’s surface to facilitate lifting. The new arrival is then rolled away to await inspection prior to being cut to the required size. Finally, it is loaded onto a steam-powered elevator, which will carry it up to its permanent resting place.

The blocks are always supplied oversize by the quarry, and a large group of stonemasons is employed in Washington to cut the heavy blocks of granite to the precise size required for placement within the structure. Steel rollers are used to expedite the process where possible, to simplify manhandling the stones.

The eight blocks on the wagon are transferred to the proximity of the elevator, and, due to the excessive weight, each one is individually loaded onto its own cart. Once the group has watched two of the blocks being handled, the family decides to skip the details and Russell fast-forwards to the handling of the final stone at the time of its arrival at the elevator device. Ladybird notes that, according to the watch, some four hours have been bypassed.

Engineers examine the stone blocks carefully; each one has its dimensions taken and recorded. Each stone is assigned a serial number, which is likewise noted along with the exact size.

Faces are inspected for quality of appearance, so that better surfaces can be left as-is, thus eliminating unnecessary cutting. Better surfaces can be assigned to the exterior. Minor damage can be hidden by using the block on the interior of the structure.

Exterior surfaces of the earlier, lower portion of the obelisk that can be seen from the ground by tourists and other visitors are white marble slabs supplied by a quarry in Cockeysville, near Baltimore, Maryland. As each course of granite blocks is completed, the stoneworkers permanently attach the polished exterior marble slabs to the newly placed surfaces.

Due to the failing light of evening, Russell advances to the next morning and the sight of the fifty-meter-high part-completed obelisk appears through the screen of the System.

Now, in the increasing light of morning, Colonel Casey, identifiable by his insignia of rank, in company with three other officers of the U.S. Army, arrives in a horse-drawn carriage. The four men, disembarking from the conveyance, and, still conversing in an undertone, walk over to the blocks arrayed beside the elevator. Casey appears pleased with the first delivery and gives instructions to the other men to proceed with the project.

The initial granite block is loaded onto the elevator and the steam elevator slowly carries it up to the fifty-meter level, where it is carefully situated beside its final resting place. The workers trowel mortar onto the previous course, then use another block and tackle set to lower the new block precisely into position.

Slowly, over several days, the entire course of blocks is laid in keeping with the instructions of the engineers overseeing the project. The block-laying process is followed by the attachment of the marble slabs, which make up the exterior surface of the obelisk. Thanks to fast-forwarding; the family is able to skip over the routine and boring stuff.

Following the completion of two layers of granite blocks, on the fourth day daylight is beginning to fade, although the group has spent only about two hours watching developments in Washington.

Time-shifting ahead to the next morning, they arrive just as the carriage drives up to the jobsite and disgorges its four military passengers.

The colonel is delighted to have been chosen to head up the task force privileged to complete the monument to the first president of the United States.

Casey glances casually up toward the top of the project and stops dead in his tracks. “Oh no!” he exclaims, “not again!” His subordinates, noting his stare, and his expression of disappointment, follow his lead and look at the results of the last few days’ work.

“What’s wrong, sir?” one queries. “Looks good, doesn’t it?” another asserts.

“Heck, no, it doesn’t look good!” he explodes. “Those exterior marble slabs are another darker color of stone when they are compared to the courses below.”

“Maybe it will be less visible when it’s cleaned,” a uniformed one volunteers.

“Alright, but that’s what someone said last time this happened. Frankly, I don’t think that’s going to help. Get the men to clean the slabs of marble along with eight courses underneath them,” he orders. “Do that right away, before they start on another new layer.”

The project was authorized by Congress in 1876 with a grant of $200,000. Prior endeavors to restart the building work had resulted in four courses of exterior marble slabs which did not match the color of the earlier stone. Casey has been trying to avoid a repetition of the same occurrence. Now it appears the same thing has happened again.

His subordinate marches off with Casey’s directions, and passes them along to the workers who are handling the marble slabs on the obelisk. The workers have no idea why they are being sidetracked into cleaning the exterior at this particular moment in time.

Not wanting to court trouble with an officer, they simply carry out the instructions, trying first a lye and water solution. The family watches as the procedure is carried out and word of its completion is passed down to the colonel.

Casey looks at the result and shakes his head. He asks the message-bearer from the work crew, a sergeant, to borrow a monocular-, or a binocular telescope. “I think you’re wrong, guys,” he laments, “I’m sure that’s going to be easily visible, even from the ground.”

The sergeant returns with a monocular telescope. This is not as easy to use as a binocular, but a lot better than the naked eye. “Where did you get this?” Casey asks.

“There are lots of tourists over there behind the steel barricades, sir. I told them Colonel Casey needed to borrow a telescope. When they heard it was for you, I had offers of more than fifteen. I picked the best one of the lot and brought it, sir,” the sergeant reports with a smile.

Casey levels the scope at the offending area on the obelisk and cringes. “When this monument is finished, we’re going to have to give the column a real thorough washing; a far better washing than with lye and water. I’m afraid that difference in hue is going to be a lot more obvious than I had hoped.”

“What do you think, Sergeant?” he asks the soldier.

The sarge aims the monocular device at the area where the new section meets the old. “Do you mean the difference in tone of the marble slabs we laid yesterday, and the older courses, sir?”

“That’s it, Sergeant.”

“I’m sorry to say it, Colonel; but I’m afraid I can see it almost as clearly with the naked eye as with the monocular,” he reports.

“We’re going to have to try another tack,” the colonel exclaims.

“Line me up a string of junior officers, give each one a sample of the original marble from Texas, Maryland, and get them off to all the stone quarries in Maryland, and the other places we’ve been getting our marble slabs from. We have to find a similar grade of marble of the exact same color as the original stock,” he commands. “I hope you realize this is going to set us back weeks in our schedule.”

[Phase One of the construction had been between 1848 and 1858 under the direction of Superintendent William Daugherty. Prior to the abandonment of the project in 1858, the exterior of the obelisk, with the exception of the final four courses, had been fitted with external slabs of white marble from a quarry in the Texas area of Cockeysville, Maryland. The final four courses were laid with white marble from a quarry in Sheffield, Massachusetts. This change of supplier had caused an area of the obelisk to reflect a different color, so Casey wants to try to make sure there is no repeat of that event.]

For the duration of the Civil War the hiatus in construction had continued.

Now Phase Two is just under way (1878 to 1884).

For the family, it’s ‘Mission Accomplished!’ Russell and the group have seen what Ladybird had said would be of great interest to her. Now they can safely return to the future, their home year of 2015.

By traveling in time while at the construction site, there is no possibility of ‘zipping’ home in a single bound. So, Russell uses the DELTA and ‘Page minus’ process. Due to so many time changes during the visit to the obelisk site, it is necessary to press the combination of buttons over twenty times. But, quickly they are in sight of the old analog clock/calendar at the Sunshine-Herald building. Russell swiftly makes the necessary adjustment to the through-screen display so that all watch and clock faces agree with the rec-room wall horloge.


“Dad, you did such a good job on the obelisk job that I’d like to have you continue as the driver.”

“OK, DJ. Where to, master?”





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