Mount Rushmore

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Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota, in the United States. Mount Rushmore features 60-foot (18 m) sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents: George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), sculpted by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum.

 

Robinson’s initial idea was to sculpt the Needles; however, Gutzon Borglum rejected the Needles site because of the poor quality of the granite and strong opposition from Native American groups.

 

They settled on the Mount Rushmore location, which also has the advantage of facing southeast for maximum sun exposure. As Six Grandfathers, the mountain was part of the route that Lakota leader Black Elk took in a spiritual journey that culminated at Harney Peak.

 

Following a series of military campaigns from 1876 to 1878, the United States asserted control over the area, a claim that is still disputed on the basis of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie. Among American settlers, the peak was known variously as Cougar Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Slaughterhouse Mountain, and Keystone Cliffs.

 

Over that time period, some 400 workers erected the sculpture under dangerous conditions, removing a total of 450,000 tons of rock in order to create the enormous carved heads, each of which reached a height of 60 feet (18 meters).

 

In sculptor Gutzon Borglum’s original design, the four presidents were meant to be represented from the waist up, but insufficient funding brought the carving to a halt after completion of their faces.

 

The image of Thomas Jefferson was originally intended to appear in the area at Washington’s right, but after the work there was begun, the rock was found to be unsuitable, so the work on the Jefferson figure was dynamited, and a new figure was sculpted to Washington’s left.

 

In a canyon behind the carved faces is a chamber, cut only 70 feet (21 m) into the rock, containing a vault with sixteen porcelain enamel panels. The panels include the text of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, biographies of the four presidents and Borglum, and the history of the U.S. Creation of the Shrine of Democracy took 14 years and cost a mere $1 million, though it’s now deemed priceless.

Mount Rushmore

American History, Alive in Stone…

The flags of the 56 states and territories fly below the memorial. Here, the avenue provides direct and easy access to the Grandview Terrace and Presidential Trail, a half-mile walking trail that offers spectacular views of the mountain sculpture.

 

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, South Dakota, symbolizes both national pride and an awesome accomplishment of engineering. Even as local Native Americans and environmentalists voiced their opposition to the project, deeming it a despoliation of the natural landscape, Robinson worked tirelessly to raise funding for the project, aided by Rapid City Mayor John Boland and Senator Peter Norbeck, among others.

 

Though it was arduous and dangerous work, no lives were lost during the completion of the carved heads. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, known as the “Shrine of Democracy,” has become one of the most iconic images of America and an international tourist attraction.