South Dakota is known for only a couple of things. The Black Hills of Keystone are located in the exact center of the United States, and many mammoth fossils have been found here. It also is home to the longest-producing gold mine in the United States. But, South Dakota is most famous for one giant monument, Mount Rushmore.
Mount Rushmore Facts
Mt Rushmore is named after a New York City attorney. Charles E. Rushmore was in the area when he asked a guide the name of the mountain. The guide said it did not have a name, but it would be called Mount Rushmore from then on. Although, neither of them probably knew it would become an iconic symbol in the United States.
Mount Rushmore Memorial is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States. Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, you can visit four United States presidents and learn a little bit of history.
Mount Rushmore History
Mount Rushmore is home to a huge sculpture of four U.S. presidents: Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and George Washington. They are 60 feet tall, and These famous sculptures were not easy to create and have a great history.
Between 1927 and 1941, sculptor Gutzon Borglum and about 400 workers worked on the carving of Mount Rushmore. The chief carver of the mountain of Luigi Del Bianco. He was an artisan and stonemason from New York and immigrated from Italy. He was chosen because he understood sculptors very well and could portray or show emotion easily in carved portraits.
The original plan was for the presidents to be represented from head to waist. However, the project was cut short because of a lack of funds. When sculptor Gutzon Borglum died, his son Lincoln Borglum continued the project.
Borglum was planning to include other parts of American history in the sculpture. He planned to have a panel shaped like the Louisiana Purchase, commemorating or showing respect to other important aspects of the United States history. These parts included the Declaration of Independence, the Louisiana Purchase, the U.S. Constitution, and other pieces of land like the Alaska purchase to the Panama Canal Zone. Those pieces were also left off due to no money.
Another fantastic part of Mount Rushmore that had to be abandoned was the Hall of Records. Borglum wanted to house the essential pieces of American history. They started the construction and blasted a 70-foot tunnel into the mountain, but the building stopped when Congress decided the faces were enough.
In 1998, they continued construction on the Hall of Records. Although it is not as elaborate as the original design, it does have the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, a biography of Borglum, and short descriptions of each of the presidents featured on the monument inside. The text of each document is carved into a series of porcelain enamel panels. The hall is not open for public viewing. The Hall of Records did play a role in the 2007 movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets, starring Nicolas Cage.
The presidents on Mount Rushmore represent the first 150 years of American history and they were selected because they had a role in preserving the Republic and expanding its territory. These initial plans also had Thomas Jefferson on George Washington’s right, but the rock was unsuitable and it was destroyed. The workers blasted over 450,000 short tons of rock from this stone mountain while the project was being completed. The entire project took over 14 years of work and cost the United States government $989,992.32 to about $18.2 million.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Over 2 million people visit Mount Rushmore every year, and it can sometimes become quite crowded! The most overcrowded months are June, July, and August. It is much quieter during May, September, and October. You also consider visiting before 9 am or after 3 pm because these are the perfect times to avoid the crowds.
While visiting, there is plenty to do around Mount Rushmore. You can visit the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center. That contains exhibits, park information, a bookstore, and a film explaining the reasons for and methods used in carving Mount Rushmore. The Avenue of Flags is also a fascinating site, and it has the flags of all 50 states, one district, three territories, and two commonwealths of the United States of America. It is a great spot to sit and relax while watching the flags in the breeze.
If you are looking to get in some exercise while visiting, you can walk the Presidental Trail. It is .6 miles long, includes 422 stairs, and is open depending on the weather. On the trail, you can get a little closer to the mountain sculpture and hopefully spot some local wildlife! There are other hiking trails around the area as well, such as the Blackberry Trail and the Centennial Trail.
You can also visit the Sculptor’s Studio. This building is where Guzton Borglum worked from 1939 to 1941. Inside you will be able to view the 1/12th scale model of Mount Rushmore. If you decide to come during the summer months, the rangers present 15-minute talks. These talks focus on the workers who helped Borglum and the tools and techniques they used.
Kids love completing the junior rangers program. You can receive the booklets at the information desk, which come in three different age groups. Ages 3-4, 5-12, and 13 and up. These junior rangers will try to complete 16 challenges at different tour stops around Mount Rushmore park. If they complete all of the challenges, they will receive a Junior Ranger badge from the ranger desk.
Finally, if you have worked up an appetite and need something to eat, consider trying Carvers’ Cafe for some ice cream from the ice cream shop or you can look around the gift shop.
Preservation Of Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore has been around for over 80 years. Since tons of granite had been sculpted into these amazing portraits, you can bet they need some work done! The National Park Service and the Mount Rushmore Society are responsible for conservation efforts and keeping the mountain looking great. They use silicone sealant in the cracks to keep water out and it is then camouflaged with granite dust.
The mountain is also constantly monitored for any type of movement. A monitoring system was installed in 1998. These electronic instruments measure the smallest movements along the major fractures or lines. They also record air and rock surface temperature. Currently, there is no record of movement and the monument is safe.
Mount Rushmore Fun Facts
Here are just a few fun facts about Mt. Rushmore!
- Even though Theodore Roosevelt wore glasses, he isn’t wearing glasses on Mt. Rushmore.
- Doane Robinson dreamed up the idea of Mount Rushmore. He wanted to find a way to attract tourists to the state.
- George Washington was chosen because he was our nation’s founding father.
- Thomas Jefferson was chosen to represent expansion. He was the president who signed the Louisiana Purchase and was the author of the Declaration of Independence.
- Theodore Roosevelt was included because he represented conservation and the industrial parts of the nation.
- Abraham Lincoln was chosen because he led the country through the Civil War and believed in protecting the nation.
- Mount Rushmore once had an amateur baseball team, and they placed second in the South Dakota amateur baseball tournament in 1939.
Mount Rushmore is one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in the United States. It brings tourists from all over the world and is a must-see! Whether you are heading to the sculptor studio, walking the presidential trail, or enjoying an ice cream, Mt. Rushmore is somewhere you should put on your bucket list because you must visit!