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#5 - Who Are the Carved Faces on Mount Rushmore? - 2004-10-13

Mount Rushmore is part of the Black Hills in the middle western state of South Dakota. The Black Hills are ancient. They were old even before Asia's Himalaya Mountains and Europe's Alps Mountains were formed.

Pine trees cover the land. They stretch as far as the eye can see. Rising above the trees are the huge stone faces of four American presidents.

The man who carved the faces was Gutzon Borglum. Mr. Borglum liked big statues. He believed they excited the emotions of the people. So, for Mount Rushmore, he decided to carve huge men -- giants of American history -- to be the symbols of the nation.

First was George Washington. He represented the founding of the country. Next was Thomas Jefferson. He represented America's faith in the common man. Then came Abraham Lincoln. He represented the unity of the nation, saved after the American Civil War. And finally, Theodore Roosevelt. He represented the progressive spirit of America.

Mr. Borglum began blasting away rock for the Mount Rushmore statues in nineteen-twenty-seven. Each face was to be eighteen meters high. The work was completed fourteen years later...a year after Borglum died.

Since then, rock experts have worked to repair minor weather damage to the stone. They say Mount Rushmore is not in danger of falling down. The granite mountain is more than one-and-one-half-thousand-million years old. The experts say the faces on Mount Rushmore will last longer than the famous Sphinx statue in Egypt.

About three-million people visit Mount Rushmore every year. Officials there say the busiest time is during America's Independence Day celebration, July fourth. The Mount Rushmore celebration includes bands, musical performances and guest speakers. And it honors the men who built the monument more than fifty years ago.