The Faces In the Mountain

“Don’t look now. Cover your eyes. Wait until we’ve gone around the curve. Now look.”If you were traveling through the Black Hills of South Dakota for the first time, walking or riding through the lovely pine and birch forests and you took just the right turn in the road and looked up, you might not believe what you saw. Starting down at you from high up on a mountain would be four giant faces.

They are the biggest sculptured faces in the world. Carved into the rock of the mountainside, the granite faces are 60 feet high-as tall as a six story building. Even the pupil of each eye is as big as a basketball. These huge heads are of four Presidents of the United States-George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The mountain is called Mount Rushmore and the land around it has been turned into a national park. Every year thousands of people come to see these great stone faces.

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The artist who carved the faces was Gutzon Borglum. It took him and his helpers many years to do the work because it was so difficult. Few people had ever carved into a mountain before. First,Mr. Borglum had his men make marks on the side of the mountain. There was a mark where the tip of the nose would be. There was a mark for the eyes and one for the point of the chin. The men were lowered by steel roped over the side of the mountain to chip and drill away the rock. They drilled holes in the granite a few inches apart until the side of the cliff looked like a gigantic honeycomb.

With a machine called an electric bumper they smoothed down the sides of each hole in the honeycomb. This smoothed the surface of the rock. The nose, forehead and chin of the first face began to appear. Sometimes the rock could not be broken with hand tools. Then small charges of dynamite were used. But the workmen had to be careful. Too much dynamite and they might blow up all they had carved! The head of Abraham Lincoln was almost finished when the workmen ran into a large crack. Work on that part of the cliff had to be given up. The head had to be dynamited to erase it.

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Later it was recarved on another part of the mountainside. When people praised his work, Mr. Borglum made a little joke.”I did’t do much,” he said.” The faces were always in the mountain. I just had some of the rock knocked away so that the faces could be seen. When the last of the four heads was finished, thousands of people gathered at the foot of the Mt. Rushmore. Powerful search-lights lit up the great stone faces one by one. Mr. Borglum had created a monument to United States history that would lat as long as the mountain lasted.

At different times and in different places in the world men have carved other huge sculptures. About 3,000 years ago in Egypt the giant forms of sitting figures were carved into a rock cliff in front of the temple of an Egyptian leader, Ramses II. When the Aswan High Dam was built, the engineers said it would make the biggest man made lake in the world. To keep the water from covering the famous carvings, they were cut into pieces and lifted to the top of the cliff and put together again. You can see them there today.

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The Great Sphinx is a huge statue built in ancient Egypt. This one wasn’t cut into a rock cliff. The Sphinx is a fantastic creature with the head of a man and the body of a lion. It is 2540 feet long from paws to tail. It was built of stone and was meant to guard the tombs of the kings in the pyramids. The Statue of Liberty is another huge statue and this one is not so old. It is a copper and iron statue of a woman holding a torch high in the air. She stands 150 feet tall at the entrance to New York harbor. The statue was given to the United States by the people of France as a sign of friendship.

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