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Mt. Rushmore Facial Complete

July 29, 2005, 6:08 PM by Andy Harvey

America's Shrine of Democracy is shining brighter than ever. Crews began the invasive pressure wash at Mount Rushmore several weeks ago and it didn't take them as long as expected. Visitors won't be the only ones looking flawless in their pictures at Mount Rushmore.

Visitor Marti Moore said, "It's so bright and very white. You can see the faces standout. I think it looks great."

Thanks to cleaning efforts from a German company, Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln are looking their best since the monument's completion 64 years ago.
Visitors of all ages say the cleaning was a great idea.

Young Visitor TJ Moore said, "Because there's cracks in it. If they didn't clean it, it would be gross and slimy."

Visitor Gayle Holter said, "It's a good thing. You need to do it once in a while. Everything needs to be cleaned once in a while."

Lichens were growing on the faces and their roots were digging into the sculpture, which after time, could do irreparable damage. Crews say of the four heads, Washington was the easiest to clean.

Memorial Superintendent Gerard Baker said, "One of the hardest to complete was Teddy Roosevelt and I think it was because of the location and because a little more lichen in the shadows."

Crews worked from 6am to 6pm cleaning the four presidential heads. However, there were times when they had to quit early because the weather simply wasn't cooperating with them.

Baker said, "When it's a hot day like this, when it's 90 degrees down here, it's about 107 to 108 degrees up there. Because of a safety standpoint, we brought them down earlier."

The cleaning was expected to take a month, but was finished in just more than two weeks. The project also proved America's Shrine of Democracy is still holding strong.

Baker said, "It just affirms to us that this Harney Peak granite is very strong and it will be here for generations to come."

And ready for plenty of more closeups. During the cleaning, crews came across several markings that sculptor Gutzon Borglum used to map out the monument.

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