One of the most recognized American symbols . . Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial features 60-foot sculptures of these four US presidents. The memorial covers 1,278.45 acres and sits 5,725 feet above sea level.

Upon entering the Memorial you see The Avenue of flags.

Next we went to the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center. Where we saw a film about the making of Mt. Rushmore, and saw exhibits and displays.

Doane Robinson, South Dakota historian suggested building a monumental sculpture  in 1923. However, it was American sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who was hired to design and execute the project. He choose Mt. Rushmore for the site because it had solid granite., Borglum also proposed that the four heads in the sculpture symbolize the first 150 years of the United States: Washington to represent the country’s founding; Jefferson, its expansion across the continent; Roosevelt, its development domestically and as a global power; and Lincoln, its preservation through the ordeal of civil war.

To carve the four presidential heads into the face of Mount Rushmore, Borglum utilized new methods involving dynamite and pneumatic hammers to blast through a large amount of rock quickly, in addition to the more traditional tools of drills and chisels. Some 400 workers removed around 450,000 tons of rock from Mount Rushmore, which still remains in a heap near the base of the mountain. The fine details of the faces were achieved with a jackhammer. Operators hung from the top of the mountain in bosun chairs held by steel cables. Though it was arduous and dangerous work, no lives were lost during the completion of the carved heads.

Hanging from bosun chairs, oh what fun!

The first blast on the mountain occurred in 1927, shortly after its dedication by President Calvin Coolidge, and continued, off and on, for the next 14 years. Progress was hampered by periodic funding losses and design  changes.  

Before Borglum started he made a plaster model of what the sculptures would look like.  Over the course of carving Mount Rushmore, Borglum had to change his model nine times.  Borglum intended the sculptures of the four presidents to be from the waist up. Unfortunately Borglum died on March 1941, several months before the sculpture was finished. Congress ultimately decided, based on lack of funding, that the carving on Mount Rushmore would end once the four faces were complete by Borglum son Lincoln in 1941.

“Let us place there, carved high, as close to heaven as we can, the words of our leaders, their faces, to show posterity what manner of men they were. Then breathe a prayer that these records will endure until the wind and rain alone shall wear them away” Gutzon Borglum

Memorial Maintenance

Next is the Presidential Trail to walk along the base of Mt. Rushmore.

Along the walkway you come to the Borglum View Terrace & Sculptor’s Studio

There is a gift shop and Carver’s cafe where we had a bit to eat

We got to Mount Rushmore later in the afternoon so we could see the Evening Lighting Ceremony.

Each evening from late May through September, the evening lighting ceremony is held at dusk. It starts with a ranger talk, followed by a film, singing of the national anthem and then lighting of the sculpture. At the end of the ceremony they call all Veterans on stage and proceed taking down the flag. Definitely a patriotic ceremony.

Last but not least . . .

Mount Rushmore was named after New York attorney Charles E. Rushmore, who had visited the area in 1885.  Rushmore was visiting South Dakota for business when he spied the large, impressive, granite peak. When he asked his guide the name of the peak, Rushmore was told, “Hell, it never had a name, but from now on we’ll call the damn thing Rushmore.” Charles E. Rushmore later donated $5,000 to help get the Mount Rushmore project started, becoming one of the first to give private money to the project

Ya just never know . . .

Before it was carved.

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