Video: Lincoln Memorial – Behind the Scenes Tour

While visiting the Lincoln Memorial, we had an unexpected encounter with then-Secretary of Interior – Ryan Zinke. After brief introductions, he asked if we would like to join him on a behind-the-scenes tour above and below the Lincoln Memorial.

After 8 years of construction on the newly formed land known as the Potomac Flats, the Lincoln Memorial was opened on May 30th, 1922.

lincoln memorial before tour
Arriving at the grandiose Lincoln Memorial.
meeting ryan zinke lincoln
Meeting with Secretary of the Interior – Ryan Zinke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
lincoln memorial tour door side
The side location of “maintenance” door.

To the right of President Lincoln’s statue, is a small door labeled “maintenance”. Stepping past the door, we quickly found ourselves in a narrow and steep staircase.

lincoln memorial staircase
Steep, narrow, and dimly lit staircase to the top of the memorial.

On Top of the Lincoln Memorial

Still beaming with excitement for this opportunity, we quickly discovered the spectacular views from atop the Memorial.

lincoln memorial tour top walking
After exiting doorway on top of the Lincoln Memorial.
All 50 states are inscribed on the Lincoln Memorial. Here, the boys are representing our home state.
 Ryan Zinke at the lincoln memorial
The secretary of the Interior – Ryan Zinke kindly took pictures with the boys.
View from on top of the Lincoln Memorial.

The Washington Memorial and the Old Clock Tower were both closed during our visit, so we were grateful to get a birds-eye view of the National Mall.

lincoln memorial tour ryan zinke top
Secretary of the Interior, Mr. Ryan Zinke, giving a private tour on top of the Lincoln Memorial.

Mr. Zinke share history about the Civil War and the surrounding area of the Lincoln Memorial, including the Potomac River and Arlington National Cemetery.

Below the Lincoln Memorial

The grand chambers and the cavern underneath the memorial were dug out of bedrock.

lincoln memorial tour under
Entering into the large cavern underneath the Lincoln Memorial.
lincoln memorial tour under height
Trying to capture the height of the cement and marble base structure of the Lincoln Memorial.

Standing under where the 6-ton statue of Lincoln sits, we are surrounded by cement pillars.

Workers had to dig down 40 feet before work could begin on the marble monument. They poured dozens of concrete columns to support the surface structure.

Walking out of the main chamber toward the Mall, you can see the staircases flatten out as we near the plaza. Stalactites were formed by leaching underneath the cement.

lincoln memorial tour under stalactites
Walking underground from the Lincoln Memorial toward the Reflection Pool, straw stalactites have been forming from water seeping through the cement.
Mr. Ryan Zinke showing us 1914 graffiti drawn by the workers during their lunch breaks.
monopoly man origin
Believed to be the possible origin of the monopoly man.

What a privilege and blessing it was to be asked to join this private tour! The possibility of future tours being open to the public was mentioned, but nothing has become official as of this writing. Taking this journey back in time, viewing the early 1900’s engineering and graffiti, enjoying the views, and seeing the stalactites are just a few of the incredible memories!


  • Since this tour isn’t public, pray you’re there at the right time and place for this opportunity.
  • Look around for groups of people in suits and see if they are giving a tour.
  • Make sure you have a high quality camera and video camera.