Engineer relishes work atop Washington Monument

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The other members of the team are Erik Sohn, 33; Daniel Gach, 35; and Katie Francis, 27. All are engineers or architects. Each is assigned a specific side of the monument.

The inspection is expected to last several days, and the team may work through the weekend, National Park Service officials said.

The climbers are snapping photos with digital cameras and tapping the stones with soft mallets, listening for indications of damage. They are using tools to remove loose stone or mortar – including the heavy chunks Lemieux displayed Thursday.

They use radios to communicate their findings to colleagues on the ground, and they carry iPads loaded with data and drawings from the 1999 restoration of the monument. Any damage that wasn’t there in 1999 was likely caused by the quake.

The obelisk was built between 1848 and 1884 and was the tallest man-made structure in the world before being eclipsed by the Eiffel Tower. Previous natural disasters did no notable damage, and Cardini said the monument remains an engineering marvel.

“For an engineer,” she said, “it’s like Disney World.”

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