Colorado marble headed for Washington

MARBLE, Colorado – Quarry workers hewed a 191-ton, 18-foot-tall block of white marble from a rock face inside a Colorado mountain Wednesday that could one day replace the cracked Tomb of the Unknowns in Washington.

“It's good!” quarry president Rex Loesby shouted after the block toppled gently onto a cushion of gravel. Until the block was pried loose from the quarry wall, workers didn't know if any flaws were hidden inside.

The 71-year-old Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery is cracked on all four sides, and cemetery officials decided to replace it. The original monument was also carved from marble taken from Yule Quarry in Treasure Mountain, about 125 miles southwest of Denver.

The new block, 18 feet tall, 18 feet wide and 7 feet deep, will be cut down in size, lifted out of the quarry and trucked to a fabrication plant that will be built in Marble.

The block will be carved there under the supervision of sculptor Janusz Obst. Carving is expected to take 10 to 15 months. Installation of the new tomb is scheduled by Memorial Day in 2005.

A second block of marble will be cut from behind the first block as a backup, Loesby said.

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