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Published: 7/26/2006

2nd piece of granite dislodged

Engineers examine the observation deck of Perry's Victory & International Peace Memorial. Engineers examine the observation deck of Perry's Victory & International Peace Memorial.
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Put-in-Bay visitors strain for a view of the work above them. Put-in-Bay visitors strain for a view of the work above them.
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PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio - Engineers examined the granite observation deck of Perry's Victory & International Peace Memorial yesterday to check the condition of the 52 fascia stones on the observation deck, and in the process dislodged another, smaller chunk that fell 317 feet to the plaza.

The National Park Service ordered the inspection because a 500-pound piece of granite broke off about 9 p.m. on June 22, punching a hole in the plaza below. The impact created a 2 1/2-foot-wide crater.

A woman seated on a bench nearby wasn't hurt. The monument has been closed since then, pending an examination to determine whether it is safe to reopen.

Vertical Access of Ithaca, N.Y., was hired to go over the side of the monument's observation deck to examine each of the stones.

"I think we had the perfect team," Superintendent Andy Ferguson said. "They were very meticulous. They systematically looked at each piece and hammered on the fascia."

A chunk of stone about a pound and a half was dislodged from the same area where the first piece broke off, Mr. Ferguson said.

The examination, which began at 8 a.m. and lasted until 4:30 p.m., was videotaped to study in depth and will be used to decide when the memorial can reopen, he said.

"I think they've done everything they can on site," he said.

Vertical Access, founded in 1992, specializes in industrial roped access techniques derived from rock climbing and caving activities. Four of its engineers anchored ropes from the 11-ton urn on top of the monument and lowered themselves over the observation deck.

The inspection included the soffits on the underside of the deck, he said.

The Peace Memorial was opened in 1915 to commemorate Comm. Oliver Hazard Perry's victory over the British in the Battle of Lake Erie. It also celebrates the peace between the United States and Canada.

Each of the stones that line the four exterior sides of the observation deck is about 7 feet by 3 feet by 8 inches and is attached to the monument with metal rods, Mr. Ferguson said.

The section that fell was roughly 3 feet by 3 1/2 feet and 8 inches thick.

According to the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce, about 200,000 people visit the memorial each year. Although the monument is closed, other activities at the site's visitors' center continue as scheduled.



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