Mt. Rushmore – Mt Rushmore, named after a New York lawyer who visited the area, stands as a memorial to the greatness of our nation. It is located in South Dakota (SD) near Keystone at the western edge of the state.
The sculpture at Mt Rushmore is not the only one dreamed of in history. As early as 1849, Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton proposed a super-scale Christopher Columbus in the Rocky Mountains. South Dakota historian Jonah LeRoy “Doane” Robinson first conceived of the sculpture to promote tourism in the early 1920s. He had heard of the carving underway at Stone Mountain in Georgia and thought that something of the sort would help bring visitors to his state as well.
He had originally selected a site called The Needles to provide some kind of sculpture, he didn’t know yet just what, but it was rejected later as being of poor quality and unable to stand up to the carving. The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, chose Mt. Rushmore as a better site for the project. Its southeastern exposure would show better and would provide direct sunlight for most of the day.
Robinson set about trying to get Federal support for the project. In 1929 he managed to obtain favor from President Calvin Coolidge who got Congress to fund the carving against all sorts of objection from the Native American community. There is still much controversy today as the Lakota Sioux claim that the land and the mountain were seized from them in opposition to an earlier treaty.
At a cost of nearly one million dollars the carving up of Mt. Rushmore was started in October 1927 and was finished 14 years later in October 1941. Although it took 14 years to complete, the actual total time to finish the sculpture was 6 ½ years due to funding spurts and much controversy over the morality of the project. Gutzon Borglum died in 1941 and his son Lincoln finished the last seven months of the project.
The Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln are depicted on the southeastern face of the mountain. The heads are approximately 60 feet high and should there have been a head to toe sculpture the result would have been 465 feet tall. The eyes are 11 feet across and the noses are about 20 feet long.
A process called honeycombing was employed during the final phase of the sculpting. Initially dynamite was used until only three to six inches of rock was left to remove to get to the final carving surface. At this point, the drillers and assistant carvers would drill holes into the granite very close together. This honeycombing would weaken the granite so it could be removed often by hand.
There were approximately 400 workers at Mount Rushmore during the carving process from start to finish and throughout this extremely dangerous work there were no lives lost.
It is somewhat ironic that during a very stressful time in our nation’s history that something of this magnitude could be wrought. It is a memorial to the determination and vision of the American people during these hard times.
Mt. Rushmore Presidents – One of the most common questions asked is this; why were these presidents chosen for the Mount Rushmore monument?
President Washington was selected because of his efforts towards democracy in the United States.
President Jefferson was chosen for his authorship of the Declaration of Independence.
President Lincoln was chosen because he was responsible for the end of slavery in the United States.
President Roosevelt was a personal choice of Borglum’s and was chosen because of his contributions to business, conservation and the creation of the Panama Canal.
The United States of America came into being in 1776 and will be 234 years old on July 1st, 2010. Mount Rushmore represents presidents from each important era including the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
Where is Mt. Rushmore Located?
Mount Rushmore Memorial is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, 23 miles from Rapid City. The memorial serves as home to many animals and plants representative of the Black Hills of South Dakota. The geologic formations of the heart of the Black Hills region are also evident at Mount Rushmore, including large outcrops of granite and mica schist.
Mt. Rushmore stands as a shrine of democracy, a monument and memorial to this country’s birth, growth and ideals. Mount Rushmore symbolizes the greatness of this nation through the greatness of its leaders. The epic sculpture of Mount Rushmore depicts the faces of four exalted American presidents that symbolize this nation’s rich history, rugged determination and lasting achievements.
Between 1927 and 1941, Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers sculpted the 60-foot busts of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln to represent the first 150 years of American history. Washington was selected for Mount Rushmore because he was the father of our country and represents our struggle for independence, our constitution and our liberty. Jefferson was to be honored on Mt. Rushmore as the author of the Declaration of Independence, representative government and for the expansion of our country through the Louisiana Purchase.
Teddy Roosevelt, the third bust on Mount Rushmore was selected because he saw through the completion of the Panama Canal linking the oceans and opening the connecting waters of the East and the West. Lincoln was chosen for preserving the Union through one of America’s darkest hours and for the ideals of freedom and equality for all.
In the words of Mount Rushmore’s creator, John Gutzon Borglum, “Hence, let us place there, carved high, as close to heaven as we can, the works 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 the rain alone shall wear them away“
Mt. Rushmore facts - There are many interesting facts behind the faces of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, and some are more well-known than others. Most of us know the when and the why behind the monument: carving began in 1927 and finally was completed in 1941. Obviously the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum wanted to create a lasting tribute in grand form of these 4 former presidents, which is as logical a reason as any for why it was constructed. It is believed that Borglum created the monument not just as a tribute to the four men depicted on it, but also to the high ideals they each brought to America and represented within themselves. They were chosen because they ‘commemorate the founding, growth, preservation, and development to the United States.’
But, what is known concerning the ‘behind the scenes’ of the construction of this monumental creation? Project establishment was anything but easy, as you might expect. Once Borglum was hired as a sculptor, permission had to be granted. Senator Peter Norbeck and Congressman William Williamson were instrumental in getting the carving legislation passed. Two bills were submitted to Congress and the State Legislature by Williamson. Easily passed was the bill requesting permission to use federal land for the monument. The bill sent to the State of South Dakota was an uphill battle. It was defeated twice and nearly a third time, when finally, on March 5, 1925 it was signed by Governor Gunderson and passed. Established later that summer was the Mount Haney Memorial Association.
The project hit a slump when President Hoover took office. Although he did quickly appoint the final two members to the organized Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission(created by President Coolidge to authorize federal funding for the project), Hoover never met with the commission. Borlgum grew frustrated at the delay, and attempted to get in to see the president, however, after a heated dispute with the president’s secretary, his appoinment was cancelled. Eventually, Borglum did succeed in meeting with Hoover, and convinced him of the importance of the project, and voila, the first commission meeting was set up! Soon, the commission was organized, the funding completed so the work could began.
In 1933, a major change came that infuriated Borglum. President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Executive Order 6166, placing Mount Rushmore under jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Borglum detested the thought of being under the ‘watchful eye of the government.’
In 1939, the project was threatened because of potential loss of funding, because of ‘creative differences.’ Borglum’s son was in charge of Project Lincoln for the final two years. In 1941, Borglum died, just short of seeing the final dedication in March of 1941, which is ironic, to say the least.
Here are a few more Mount Rushmore facts for inquiring minds
- Borglum was 60 years old when he began working on the monument.
- Rushmore’s granite faces tower over 5,500 feet above sea level.
- The carvings are scaled to men who would stand 465 feet tall.
- Each President’s head is as tall as a six-story building.
- Over 800 million pounds of stone was removed from Mount Rushmore during the construction.
- Imagine climbing 506 steps to reach the top of Mount Rushmore-this was how many steps the workers had to climb each day!
- The president’s noses are 20 feet long, their mouths 18 feet wide, and their eyes are 11 feet across!
- Did you know that Gutzon Borglum was a student of renowned French artist Auguste Rodin, and was one of America’s most successful artists before even considering Mount Rushmore? His Mares of Diomedes was the first American work purchased by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. He also has 5 statues on display at the U.S. Capitol Building.
- Here is an astonishing fact: no deaths occurred during the whole period of carving, just a few minor injuries.
- Can you imagine that with all the dynamite used?
Learn more about Mount Rushmore with a Mount Rushmore Tour.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial depicts the 150 years old American history that stands on the Black hills of the western region of South Dakota. It exhibits an excellent work of stone art made out of granite rock. The main attraction of this monument is the faces of America’s four most prestigious presidents. Starting from the left you will see the faces of honourable George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Every year almost millions of people throughout the world visit this place to see fine work of sculpture made by various artists on granite stone.
History of Mount Rushmore
The idea behind this massive monument creation was seeded in the year 1923 when Doane Robinson proposed this plan just to boost up the tourism of the state by attracting the tourists through this magnificent work of sculptors on mountain. He also insisted that this massive sculpture must be built from granite cliff. When this plan was proposed, Gutzon Borglum who was the senator of the state chose only two famous presidents of United States George Washington and Abraham Lincoln but then with the number of discussions the entire eminent community decided that there must be at least two republicans and one democrat represented on that sculpture. Finally these four presidents were chosen to be sculptured on the Mount Rushmore.
Why granite cliff was used?
Granite is one of the most durable and hard natural stone that can easily tolerate high temperature and withstand on all weathering conditions. There were several reasons for choosing Mount Rushmore for this carving like availability of fine smooth grained granite that does not easily erode and is sturdy enough to support this massive sculpture. Moreover, the selected site was southeast facing that helped the sculpture artists to take advantage of sunlight for most of the day.
This national memorial is beautifully carved on the northwest edge of Harney Peak that is quite rich in Granite Batholiths in the Black Hills (South Dakota). This black hills region was exposed to erosion almost 1.5 billion years ago and before carving it went through several other erosion. This erosion and volcanic eruptions caused rock displacement and also introduced changes in the concentration of various chemical compounds like quartz, feldspar, silica, mica etc. These changes during Precambrian era had finally formed the granite rich black hills and 70 million years ago the Black Hills were uplifted where the work of National Memorial was initiated in 1927.
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