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Thank you for your question to History Hub. The obelisk in question is commemorative. The Wisconsin Avenue Bridge was one of many built along the banks of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal to separate the burgeoning city from the canal's towpath. In 1850, upon the completion of the canal to its concluding point in Cumberland, Maryland, the C & O Canal Company commissioned the creation and placement of that obelisk on the bridge to commemorate the achievement. The obelisk also features inscriptions on all four sides with the words:
Northeast face: “CHESAPEAKE & OHIO CANAL/ Commenced at Georgetown/ July 4TH 1828/ Chief Engineer/ BENJAMIN WRIGHT”
Northwest face: “CHESAPEAKE & OHIO CANAL/ COMPLETED TO CUMBERLAND/ Octr. 10TH 1850/ CHIEF ENGINEER/ CHARLES B. FISK”
Southeast face: "CHESAPEAKE & OHIO CANAL COMPANY 1850/ President/ JAMES M. COALE./ Directors / WILLIAM A. BRADLEY/ HENRY DAINGERFIELD/ WM. COST JOHNSON/ JOHN PICKELL/ GEORGE SCHLEY/ SAMUEL P. SMITH/ Clerk/ WALTER S. RINGOL/ Treasurer / LAWRENCE J. BRENGLE.”
Southwest face: “MARYLAND STATE AGENTS/ SAMUEL SPRIGG/ ALLEN B. DAVIS, WM. T. GOLDSBOROUGH, TENCH TILGHMAN, JOHN VAN LEAR.”
Many of the records concerning the canal construction and commemoration are still likely in the possession of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, National Park Service. They can be e-mailed at email@example.com.
In addition, some of the records of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company are archived at the University of Maryland Library Archives. Please consult Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company archives > ArchivesUM for more information on those materials.
If you would like to know more about the canal and obelisk, the C and O Canal also has a friends group which cooperates with the National Park Service in the conservation and commemoration of the project. They can be reached at C&O Canal Association.
Hope this assists you in understanding this piece of the DC past.