With a height of 555 feet, the Washington Monument has 897 steps. The stairwell walls of the monument contain 192 memorial stones honoring George Washington. The stones serve as tributes to George Washington's leadership and are as diverse as their 192 donors. The donors were all 50 states, municipalities, private companies and organizations, the Cherokee Nation, individual citizens, and various foreign governments.
In 1849, the Alabama stone was the first one to be installed. In 1982, the Alaska stone (made of solid jade) was the last to be installed. The most famous stone was a gift from Pope Pius IX, who donated a marble slab that had been part of the Temple of Concord in Rome. However, on the night of March 6, 1854, a band of masked thieves stole the stone from a storage shed. Later, the thieves were identified as members of the "Know-Nothing" Party, a party which was anti-foreigner and anti-Catholic. The "Pope's Stone" was stolen and believed to be destroyed. In 1982, the Vatican donated a replacement stone which is a replica of the original.
In 1976, the National Park Service was forced to close the stairway to unescorted visitors because of vandalism to the stones. Now, visitors can only see the stones on ranger-led tours down the 897 steps.