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This week in travel: Oct. 29-Nov. 4

Deb Hopewell, Y! Travel Senior Editor

Oct. 29, 1998

John Glenn becomes the oldest person to fly in space (and the third congressional incumbent) when the space shuttle Discovery blasted off from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Oct. 31, 1941

After 14 years of work, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial is completed in the Black Hills of western South Dakota, historically honored by the Sioux as sacred land.

Local historian Doane Robinson is believed to have proposed the idea of carving famous people into the native granite to promote tourism, though his picks leaned toward Western heroes such as Buffalo Bill Cody, Lewis and Clark, and Sioux chief Red Cloud. However, Danish-American sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who arrived after his involvement with the Confederate Memorial Carving in Stone Mountain, Georgia,  thought it should have a national focus, and conceived using presidents.

Sensing political opportunity, GOP President Calvin Coolidge insisted that in addition George Washington, two faces should be Republican, and one Democrat. The original concept was to carve the figures from the waist up, but a shortage of funds meant Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln were carved from the neck up; Washington, the non-partisan, got a bust.

Despite sporadic controversy, including the American Indian Movement occupation in 1971, the monument is visited by nearly 3 million people annually - particularly over the week of the Sturgis motorcycle rally.

Nov. 1, 79

The ancient city of Pompeii is buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Lost for nearly 1700 years, its ruins were discovered in 1748, and today is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy.

Nov. 2, 1889

On this day, North Dakota is made the 39th state, and South Dakota is made the 40th state. And to this day, most people can't tell the difference.

Nov. 3, 1493

Italian explorer Christopher Columbus arrives at the Caribbee Isles, now known as Dominica, during his second expedition.

Nov. 4, 1493

Obviously on a roll, Columbus discovers Guadeloupe.