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Throughout all ages man has always carved colossal figures out of stone. This can be seen in the ancient ruins of Egypt, Persia and Babylon. In modern times America has also taken up the same challenge and has carved huge sculptures into her mountains.
On the East Coast of America not far from Atlanta, Georgia stands Stone Mountain, the largest mass of exposed granite in the world. Carved into the side of this mountain are three tremendous equestrian figures. They are sculptures of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and "Stonewall Jackson." It is a memorial to the Confederacy. The colossal figure of Lee alone measures 138 feet from the top of his head to the tip of his horse's hoof. To see these stone sculptures on the side of a mountain is most impressive and inspiring. It was commissioned in 1916 and was begun by Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mt. Rushmore, but was not completed until 1969 by Walter K. Hancock.
In South Dakota, a western state, is located another achievement of man's ability to shape nature into his own image and the achievement is considered to be one of the great man-made wonders of the modern world. It is located in the Black Hills in the southwestern part of the state. It is called the "Shrine of Democracy" at Mount Rushmore about twenty-five miles from Rapid City. It is visible for 97 kilometers.
This monument was conceived by master sculptor, Gutzon Borglum and was begun in 1927. He was born in Idaho and his first commission was a statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Capitol in Washington, D. C. This masterpiece in stone consists of the faces of four U.S. presidents which are 60 feet high each. The monument took 14 years to complete and ranks as one of the great sculptures of the world equal to the colossal figures of gods and kings found in Egyptian temples and tombs. Some have argued that a fifth face should be carved next to the existing four, but this would be impossible because the stone on the rest of the mountain is not of good quality for carving.
The mountain is especially beautiful at dawn and sunset as the light of the new day and the onset of evening adds the drama of nature to the art of man. The sculpture depicts faces which are determined and strong and the eyes, although made of stone, are vibrant and alive.
Not far from Mount Rushmore another gargantuan sculpture is now in progress. It is located six miles north of Custer and depicts the Great Sioux chieftain, Crazy Horse. It is called the Crazy Horse Memorial. When it is completed it will rival Mount Rushmore in grandeur and stand proudly next to the other great sculptures of the world. The sculptor of this monument is Korczak Ziolkowski. He was invited by the Sioux indians in 1946 to carve Crazy Horse into the sacred Black Hills. Although Korczak died in 1982 his work was continued by his wife who supervises the completion of the sculpture. As of 1998 Crazy Horse's face was completed. At present no one knows when the sculpture of Crazy Horse will be completed because of the uncertainty of financing but for future generations it will be another masterwork carved in stone. A trip to America would not be complete without viewing one of these monuments. Their size, scope and grandeur stand as a testimony to both art and technology and the grandeur of America.