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Mount Rushmore National Memorial
"IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
""Map showing the location of Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Map showing the location of Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Location "Pennington County, South Dakota, "United States
Nearest city "Keystone, South Dakota
Coordinates 43°52′44″N 103°27′35″W / 43.87889°N 103.45972°W / 43.87889; -103.45972"Coordinates: 43°52′44″N 103°27′35″W / 43.87889°N 103.45972°W / 43.87889; -103.45972
Area 1,278 acres (5.17 km2)
Established March 3, 1925
Visitors 2,431,231 (in 2016)[1]
Governing body "National Park Service
Website Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a "sculpture carved into the "granite face of Mount Rushmore, a "batholith in the "Black Hills in "Keystone, South Dakota, "United States. Sculptor "Gutzon Borglum created the sculpture's design and oversaw the project's execution from 1927 to 1941 with the help of his son, "Lincoln Borglum.[2][3] Mount Rushmore features 60-foot (18 m) sculptures of the heads of four "United States presidents: "George Washington (1732–1799), "Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), "Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), and "Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865).[4] The memorial park covers 1,278.45 acres (2.00 sq mi; 5.17 km2)[5] and is 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level.[6]

South Dakota historian "Doane Robinson is credited with conceiving the idea of carving the likenesses of famous people into the "Black Hills region of South Dakota in order to promote tourism in the region. Robinson's initial idea was to sculpt the "Needles; however, Gutzon Borglum rejected the Needles because of the poor quality of the granite and strong opposition from Native American groups. They settled on Mount Rushmore, which also has the advantage of facing southeast for maximum sun exposure. Robinson wanted it to feature "American West heroes like "Lewis and Clark, "Red Cloud,[7] and "Buffalo Bill Cody,[8] but Borglum decided the sculpture should have broader appeal and chose the four presidents.

After securing federal funding through the enthusiastic sponsorship of "Mount Rushmore's great political patron" U.S. Senator "Peter Norbeck,[9] construction on the memorial began in 1927, and the presidents' faces were completed between 1934 and 1939. Upon Gutzon Borglum's death in March 1941, his son "Lincoln Borglum took over as leader of the construction project. Each president was originally to be depicted from head to waist. Lack of funding forced construction to end on October 31, 1941.[10]

Mount Rushmore has become an iconic symbol of the United States, and it has appeared in works of fiction, as well as being discussed or depicted in other popular works. It attracts over two million visitors annually.[1]



Mount Rushmore before construction, circa 1905.
A model at the site depicting Mount Rushmore's intended final design

Originally known to the "Lakota "Sioux as "The Six Grandfathers",[11] the mountain was renamed after "Charles E. Rushmore, a prominent "New York lawyer, during an expedition in 1885.[12] At first, the project of carving Rushmore was undertaken to increase tourism in the "Black Hills region of South Dakota. After long negotiations involving a "Congressional delegation and President "Calvin Coolidge, the project received Congressional approval. The carving started in 1927 and ended in 1941 with no fatalities.[13]

As Six Grandfathers, the mountain was part of the route that Lakota leader "Black Elk took in a spiritual journey that culminated at "Black Elk Peak. Following a series of "military campaigns from 1876 to 1878, the United States asserted control over the area, a claim that is still disputed on the basis of the 1868 "Treaty of Fort Laramie (see section "Controversy" below). Among American settlers, the peak was known variously as Cougar Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Slaughterhouse Mountain, and Keystone Cliffs. It was named Mount Rushmore during a prospecting expedition by Charles Rushmore, David Swanzey (husband of "Carrie Ingalls), and Bill Challis.[14]

Historian "Doane Robinson conceived the idea for Mount Rushmore in 1923 to promote "tourism in South Dakota. In 1924, Robinson persuaded sculptor "Gutzon Borglum to travel to the Black Hills region to ensure the carving could be accomplished. Borglum had been involved in sculpting the "Confederate Memorial Carving, a massive "bas-relief memorial to "Confederate leaders on "Stone Mountain in "Georgia, but was in disagreement with the officials there.[15]

The original plan was to make the carvings in "granite pillars known as the "Needles. However, Borglum realized that the eroded Needles were too thin to support sculpting. He chose Mount Rushmore, a grander location, partly because it faced southeast and enjoyed maximum exposure to the sun. Borglum said upon seeing Mount Rushmore, "America will march along that skyline."[16] "Congress authorized the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission on March 3, 1925.[16]

Construction of the Mount Rushmore monument

Between October 4, 1927, and October 31, 1941, Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers[17] sculpted the colossal 60 foot (18 m) high carvings of "U.S. presidents "George Washington, "Thomas Jefferson, "Theodore Roosevelt, and "Abraham Lincoln to represent the first 130 years of American history. These presidents were selected by Borglum because of their role in preserving the Republic and expanding its territory.[16][18] The carving of Mount Rushmore involved the use of "dynamite, followed by the process of "honeycombing", a process where workers drill holes close together, allowing small pieces to be removed by hand.[19] In total, about 450,000 short tons (410,000 t) of rock were blasted off the mountainside.[20] The image of Thomas Jefferson was originally intended to appear in the area at Washington's right, but after the work there was begun, the rock was found to be unsuitable, so the work on the Jefferson figure was dynamited, and a new figure was sculpted to Washington's left.[16]

The Chief Carver of the mountain was Luigi del Bianco, artisan and headstone carver in Port Chester, NY. Del Bianco emigrated to the U.S. from "Friuli in Italy, and was chosen to work on this project because of his remarkable skill at etching emotions and personality into his carved portraits.[2][3]

In 1933, the National Park Service took Mount Rushmore under its jurisdiction. Julian Spotts helped with the project by improving its infrastructure. For example, he had the tram upgraded so it could reach the top of Mount Rushmore for the ease of workers. By July 4, 1934, Washington's face had been completed and was dedicated. The face of Thomas Jefferson was dedicated in 1936, and the face of Abraham Lincoln was dedicated on September 17, 1937. In 1937, a bill was introduced in Congress to add the head of civil-rights leader "Susan B. Anthony, but a "rider was passed on an appropriations bill requiring federal funds be used to finish only those heads that had already been started at that time.[21] In 1939, the face of Theodore Roosevelt was dedicated.

The Sculptor's Studio – a display of unique plaster models and tools related to the sculpting – was built in 1939 under the direction of Borglum. Borglum had planned to make a secret room behind the hairline of Abraham Lincoln which was supposed to be a doorway to a chamber originally intended to hold some of America's most treasured documents but was left unfinished due to his death.[22] Borglum died from an "embolism in March 1941. His son, "Lincoln Borglum, continued the project. Originally, it was planned that the figures would be carved from head to waist,[23] but insufficient funding forced the carving to end. Borglum had also planned a massive panel in the shape of the "Louisiana Purchase commemorating in eight-foot-tall gilded letters the "Declaration of Independence, "U.S. Constitution, Louisiana Purchase, and seven other territorial acquisitions from "Alaska to "Texas to the "Panama Canal Zone.[18] In total, the entire project cost US$989,992.32.[24] Unusually for a project of such size, no workers died during the carving.[25]

Side view of "George Washington from rocky terrain at Mount Rushmore
Entrance to the site

On October 15, 1966, Mount Rushmore was listed on the "National Register of Historic Places. A 500-word essay giving the history of the United States by "Nebraska student William Andrew Burkett was selected as the college-age group winner in a 1934 competition, and that essay was placed on the Entablature on a bronze plate in 1973.[21][26] In 1991, President "George H. W. Bush officially dedicated Mount Rushmore.[27]

In a canyon behind the carved faces is a chamber, cut only 70 feet (21 m) into the rock, containing a vault with sixteen porcelain enamel panels. The panels include the text of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, biographies of the four presidents and Borglum, and the history of the U.S. The chamber was created as the entrance-way to a planned "Hall of Records"; the vault was installed in 1998.[28]

Ten years of redevelopment work culminated with the completion of extensive visitor facilities and sidewalks in 1998, such as a Visitor Center, the "Lincoln Borglum Museum, and the Presidential Trail. Maintenance of the memorial requires mountain climbers to monitor and seal cracks annually. Due to budget constraints, the memorial is not regularly cleaned to remove "lichens. However, on July 8, 2005, "Alfred Kärcher GmbH, a German manufacturer of "pressure washing and steam cleaning machines, conducted a free cleanup operation which lasted several weeks, using pressurized water at over 200 °F (93 °C).[29]


The "Black Hills opposite Mount Rushmore.
Aerial NW direction view of Mount Rushmore National Memorial from a helicopter.

The flora and fauna of Mount Rushmore are similar to those of the rest of the Black Hills region of South Dakota. Birds including the "turkey vulture, "bald eagle, "hawk, and "meadowlark fly around Mount Rushmore, occasionally making "nesting spots in the ledges of the mountain. Smaller birds, including songbirds, "nuthatches, and "woodpeckers, inhabit the surrounding pine forests.[30] Terrestrial mammals include the "mouse, "least chipmunk, "red squirrel, "skunk, "porcupine, "raccoon, "beaver, "badger, "coyote, "bighorn sheep, "bobcat, "elk, "mule deer, "yellow-bellied marmot, and "American bison.[30][31] The striped chorus frog, "western chorus frog, and "northern leopard frog also inhabit the area,[32] along with several species of "snake. Grizzly Bear Brook and Starling Basin Brook, the two streams in the memorial, support fish such as the "longnose dace and the "brook trout.["citation needed] "Mountain goats are not indigenous to the region. Those living near Mount Rushmore are descendents of a tribe that Canada gifted to "Custer State Park in 1924, which later escaped.[30][33][34]

At lower elevations, "coniferous trees, mainly the "ponderosa pine, surround most of the monument, providing shade from the sun. Other trees include the "bur oak, the "Black Hills spruce, and the "cottonwood. Nine species of shrubs grow near Mount Rushmore. There is also a wide variety of wildflowers, including especially the "snapdragon, "sunflower, and "violet. Towards higher elevations, plant life becomes sparser.[34] However, only approximately five percent of the plant species found in the Black Hills are indigenous to the region.[35]

The area receives about 18 inches (460 mm) of precipitation on average per year, enough to support abundant animal and plant life. Trees and other plants help to control "surface runoff. Dikes, seeps, and springs help to dam up water that is flowing downhill, providing watering spots for animals. In addition, stones like "sandstone and "limestone help to hold "groundwater, creating "aquifers.[36]

A study of the fire scars present in "tree ring samples indicates that "forest fires occur in the ponderosa forests surrounding Mount Rushmore around every 27 years. Large fires are not common. Most events have been ground fires that serve to clear forest debris.[37] The area is a "climax community. Recent["when?] "pine beetle infestations have threatened the forest.[31]



Mount Rushmore, showing the full size of the mountain and the "scree of rocks from the sculpting and construction.

Mount Rushmore is largely composed of "granite. The memorial is carved on the northwest margin of the "Black Elk Peak granite "batholith in the Black Hills of South Dakota, so the geologic formations of the heart of the Black Hills region are also evident at Mount Rushmore. The batholith "magma intruded into the pre-existing "mica "schist rocks during the "Proterozoic, 1.6 billion years ago.[38] Coarse grained "pegmatite "dikes are associated with the "granite intrusion of Black Elk Peak and are visibly lighter in color, thus explaining the light-colored streaks on the foreheads of the presidents.

The Black Hills granites were exposed to "erosion during the "Neoproterozoic, but were later buried by "sandstone and other sediments during the "Cambrian. Remaining buried throughout the "Paleozoic, they were re-exposed again during the "Laramide orogeny around 70 million years ago.[38] The Black Hills area was uplifted as an elongated geologic dome.[39] Subsequent erosion stripped the granite of the overlying sediments and the softer adjacent schist. Some schist does remain and can be seen as the darker material just below the sculpture of Washington.

The tallest mountain in the region is "Black Elk Peak (7,242 ft or 2,207 m). Borglum selected Mount Rushmore as the site for several reasons. The rock of the mountain is composed of smooth, fine-grained granite. The durable granite erodes only 1 inch (25 mm) every 10,000 years, thus was more than sturdy enough to support the sculpture and its long-term exposure.[16] The mountain's height of 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level[6] made it suitable, and because it faces the southeast, the workers also had the advantage of sunlight for most of the day.


The Mount Rushmore area is underlain by well drained "alfisol soils of very gravelly loam (Mocmount) to silt loam (Buska) texture, brown to dark grayish brown.[40]


Mount Rushmore has a "humid continental climate (Dwb in the "Köppen climate classification). It is inside a "USDA Plant Hardiness Zone of 5a, meaning certain plant life in the area can withstand a low temperature of no less than −20 °F (−29 °C).[41]

The two wettest months of the year are May and June. "Orographic lift causes brief but strong afternoon thunderstorms during the summer.[42]

Climate data for Mount Rushmore National Memorial, 1981-2011 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 68
Average high °F (°C) 36.3
Daily mean °F (°C) 27.5
Average low °F (°C) 18.7
Record low °F (°C) −38
Average "precipitation inches (mm) 0.38
Average snowfall inches (cm) 5.8
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01) 4.3 4.7 6.3 8.2 11.9 12.6 11.4 9.3 7.4 6.8 4.4 4.2 91.5
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1) 3.9 3.8 3.9 3.1 0.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 1.4 2.7 3.4 23.1
Source #1: [43]
Source #2: [44]


Historical visitor count[1]
Year Visitors
1941 393,000
1950 740,499
1960 1,067,000
1970 1,965,700
1980 1,284,888
1990 1,671,673
2000 1,868,876
2010 2,331,237

Tourism is South Dakota's second-largest industry, and Mount Rushmore is the state's top tourist attraction.[45] In 2012, 2,185,447 people visited the park.[1] In the 1950s and 1960s, Sioux Benjamin Black Elk (son of medicine man "Black Elk) was the "Fifth Face of Mount Rushmore", posing for photographs with thousands of tourists. He became one of the most photographed people in the world.[46]


Distant view of Mount Rushmore

The ongoing conservation of the site is overseen by the US "National Park Service.[47] Physical efforts to conserve the monument have included replacement of the sealant applied originally by Gutzon Borglum, which had proved ineffective at providing water resistance (components include linseed oil, granite dust and white lead). A modern silicone replacement was used, disguised with granite dust.

In 1998, electronic monitoring devices were installed to track movement in the topology of the sculpture to an accuracy of 3 mm. The site has been subsequently digitally recorded using a terrestrial "laser scanning methodology in 2009 as part of the international "Scottish Ten project, providing a record of unprecedented resolution and accuracy to inform the conservation of the site. This data was made accessible online to be freely used by the wider community to aid further interpretation and public access.[48]


The United States seized the area from the "Lakota tribe after the "Great Sioux War of 1876. The "Treaty of Fort Laramie from 1868 had previously granted the Black Hills to the Lakota in perpetuity. Members of the "American Indian Movement led an "occupation of the monument in 1971, naming it "Mount Crazy Horse". Among the participants were young activists, grandparents, children and Lakota holy man "John Fire Lame Deer, who planted a prayer staff atop the mountain. Lame Deer said the staff formed a symbolic "shroud over the presidents' faces "which shall remain dirty until the treaties concerning the Black Hills are fulfilled."[49]

In 2004, the first Native American superintendent of the park, Gerard Baker, was appointed. Baker has stated that he will open up more "avenues of interpretation", and that the four presidents are "only one avenue and only one focus."[50]

The "Crazy Horse Memorial is being constructed elsewhere in the Black Hills to commemorate the famous Native American leader as a response to Mount Rushmore. It is said to be larger than Mount Rushmore and has the support of Lakota chiefs; the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation has rejected offers of "federal funds. However, this memorial is likewise the subject of controversy, even within the Native American community.[51]

In popular culture[edit]

Roger Thornhill ("Cary Grant) and Eve Kendall ("Eva Marie Saint) dangle precariously from the sculpture of George Washington in the 1959 film "North by Northwest. Studio "mockups were intercut with actual monument footage for the filming.
Mount Rushmore commemorative stamp of 1952

Because of its fame as a monument, Mount Rushmore has been depicted in multiple places in popular culture. It is often depicted as a cover for a secret location; shown with faces removed or modified (as in "Superman II), or added; or parodied. Trey Parker and Matt Stone used the location as the headquarters for their movie "Team America: World Police. The memorial was also famously used as the location of the climactic "chase scene in "Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 movie "North by Northwest.[52]

Legacy and commemoration[edit]

On August 11, 1952, the U.S. Post Office issued the Mount Rushmore Memorial "commemorative stamp on the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the Mt. Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota.[53] On January 2, 1974, a ""26-cent airmail stamp depicting the monument was also issued.[54]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d "Park Statistics". "National Park Service. Retrieved January 23, 2018. 
  2. ^ a b Roberts, Sam (June 28, 2016). "An Immigrant's Contribution to Mount Rushmore Is Recognized, 75 Years Later". "New York Times. Retrieved September 19, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Andrews, John (May 2014). "Slight of Hand". "South Dakota Magazine. Retrieved September 22, 2017. 
  4. ^ Mount Rushmore National Memorial. December 6, 2005.60 SD Web Traveler, Inc. Retrieved April 7, 2006.
  5. ^ McGeveran, William A. Jr. et al. (2004). The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2004. New York: World Almanac Education Group, Inc. "ISBN "0-88687-910-8.
  6. ^ a b Mount Rushmore, South Dakota (November 1, 2004). Retrieved March 13, 2006.
  7. ^ '!, episode 5x08 "Mount Rushmore", May 10, 2007
  8. ^ "Making Mount Rushmore | Mount Rushmore". Oh, Ranger!. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Biography:Senator Peter Norbeck". American Experience: Mount Rushmore. PBS. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Mount Rushmore". American Experience – TV's Most Watched History Series. PBS. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  11. ^ "Untold Stories Discussion Guide: Baker and Mount Rushmore" (PDF). "The National Parks: America's Best Idea. "PBS. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 18, 2015. Mount Rushmore – a rocky outcropping the Lakota had called 'The Six Grandfathers,' named for the earth, the sky, and the four directions 
  12. ^ Belanger, Ian A.; Kennedy, Sally; Allison; McMeen, Melissa; Arnold, John (April 21, 2002). "Mt. Rushmore — presidents on the rocks". Archived from the original on May 14, 2006. Retrieved January 11, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Mount Rushmore National Memorial Frequently Asked Questions". National Park Service. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  14. ^ Keystone Area Historical Society Keystone Characters Archived September 9, 2006, at the "Wayback Machine.. Retrieved October 3, 2006.
  15. ^ "People & Events: The Carving of Stone Mountain". American Experience. PBS. Archived from the original on April 13, 2010. Retrieved March 17, 2010. 
  16. ^ a b c d e Carving History (October 2, 2004). National Park Service.
  17. ^ "Carving History". National Park Service. Retrieved February 22, 2013. 
  18. ^ a b "Albert Boime, "Patriarchy Fixed in Stone: Gutzon Borglum's 'Mount Rushmore'," American Art, Vol. 5, No. 1/2. (Winter – Spring, 1991), pp. 142–67.
  19. ^ "Honeycombing process explained from". June 14, 2004. Archived from the original on August 1, 2008. Retrieved March 20, 2010. 
  20. ^ "Geology Fieldnotes". January 4, 2005. Retrieved October 22, 2010. 
  21. ^ a b American Experience "Timeline: Mount Rushmore" (2002). Retrieved March 20, 2006.
  22. ^ "Mount Rushmore's Secret Chamber – History in the Headlines". Retrieved August 27, 2017. 
  23. ^ Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
  24. ^ Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Tourism in South Dakota. Laura R. Ahmann. Retrieved March 19, 2006.
  25. ^ Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Retrieved June 7, 2006.
  26. ^ "Text of 1934 Essay – History of the United States" (PDF). Retrieved August 27, 2017. 
  27. ^ "George Bush: Remarks at the Dedication Ceremony of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota". The American Presidency Project. July 3, 1991. Retrieved August 27, 2017. 
  28. ^ "Hall of Records". Mount Rushmore National Memorial web site. National Park Service. June 14, 2004. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved July 4, 2007. 
  29. ^ "For Mount Rushmore, An Overdue Face Wash". Washington Post. July 11, 2005. Retrieved March 17, 2010. 
  30. ^ a b c "Enjoy Wildlife......Safely" (PDF). National Park Service. National Park Service. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  31. ^ a b Freeman, Mary. "Mount Rushmore, South Dakota for Tourists". USA Today. Tysons Corner, VA: Gannett Company. Retrieved January 3, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Amphibians". National Park Service. National Park Service. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  33. ^ "Nature & Science- Animals". NPS. November 26, 2006. Retrieved March 17, 2010. 
  34. ^ a b "Mount Rushmore- Flora and Fauna". American Park Network. 2001. Archived from the original on December 12, 2007. Retrieved January 11, 2016. 
  35. ^ "Nature & Science – Plants". NPS. December 6, 2006. Retrieved March 17, 2010. 
  36. ^ Nature & Science- Groundwater. National Park Service. Retrieved April 1, 2006.
  37. ^ Nature & Science- Forests. National Park Service. Retrieved April 1, 2006.
  38. ^ a b Geologic Activity. National Park Service.
  39. ^ Irvin, James R. Great Plains Gallery (2001). Retrieved March 16, 2006.
  40. ^ "SoilWeb: An Online Soil Survey". "University of California, Davis. Retrieved August 27, 2017. 
  41. ^ "USDA Hardiness Zone Finder". The National Gardening Association. National Gardening Association. Retrieved January 3, 2014. 
  42. ^ "Weather History". National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. June 23, 2004. Archived from the original on July 6, 2008. Retrieved January 27, 2013. 
  43. ^ "Monthly Averages for Mount Rushmore Natl Memorial, SD". The Weather Channel. Retrieved January 3, 2014. 
  44. ^ "NOWData – NOAA Online Weather Data". "National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved January 3, 2014. 
  45. ^ "Popular South Dakota Attractions >>South Dakota". Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  46. ^ Kilen Ode, Jeanne (1984). Dakota Images: Benjamin Black Elk (PDF). 14. South Dakota Historical Society. 
  47. ^ "Caring For A Monumental Sculpture" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved July 8, 2013. 
  48. ^ "Mount Rushmore National Memorial". CyArk. Retrieved July 8, 2013. 
  49. ^ Matthew Glass, "Producing Patriotic Inspiration at Mount Rushmore," Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 62, No. 2. (Summer, 1994), pp. 265–283.
  50. ^ David Melmer (December 13, 2004). "Historic changes for Mount Rushmore". Indiancountrytoday. Archived from the original on August 8, 2010. Retrieved March 17, 2010. 
  51. ^ Lame Deer, John (Fire) and Richard Erdoes. Lame Deer Seeker of Visions. Simon and Schuster, New York, New York, 1972. Paperback "ISBN "0-671-55392-5
  52. ^ John Brady (1981). The Craft of the Screenwriter. Simon & Schuster. "ISBN "0671252291. , p. 201.
  53. ^ "3c Mt. Rushmore single". Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  54. ^ Scotts United States Stamp catalogue, 1982. Scott's Publishing Company. 1981. "ISBN "0-89487-042-4. , p. 289.

Further reading

External links[edit]

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