The Oregon Memorial Block
Monday September 12, 2005
By Craig Stillwell
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
Few people realize that a tiny piece of Southern Oregon resides in Washington, D. C. This piece is actually a block of marble found in an interior wall of the Washington Monument. In 1849, states and territories were invited to contribute memorial blocks in order to offset costs. Political and financial problems, however, stopped construction five years later. Work on the monument did not resume again until 1879.
In 1880, a marble-cutter from Ashland secured the government contract, and with the help of a miner, cut a four-ton block of marble from the Jones quarry near Williams. Because the railroad had not yet connected Oregon and California, the two men had to haul the block by wagon over the Siskiyous to Redding. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, the rough bouncing opened a flaw in the marble. The block broke and the two men had to return to the quarry to cut another.
Dedicated in 1885 and opened to the public in 1888, the Washington Monument is still open and free of charge. To see the Oregon memorial block, skip the elevator ride and take the stairs up to the 325-foot level. Look along the west wall for the block engraved with Oregon State Seal.
Today's episode of As It Was was written by Craig Stillwell, the program engineer is Raymond Scully. I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org
Sutton, Jack, 110 Years with Josephine: The History of Josephine County, Oregon. Josephine County Historical Society, 1966, p. 121; Arman, Florence, "Williams, Past and Present," in A History of Josephine County, Oregon. Josephine County Historical Society, 1988, p. 61.