BLACK HILLS, SD, July 28, 2014 — Even before you get to this iconic symbol of democracy, even before you are able to see the faces of the four presidents carved into the Black Hills, as you are walking towards the monument itself, your heart is pounding.
One cannot deny the excitement of seeing America’s most iconic sculpture featuring the faces of four exalted American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.
We felt the same way the first time we visited the Statue of Liberty.
Mount Rushmore National Monument was established in 1925 and commemorates the first 150 years of the history of the United States. It is a very short ride from Rapid City, South Dakota to the Black Hills where almost three million people come each year to marvel at the majestic beauty of a sculpture that is truly a symbol of freedom and hope for people of all cultures.
Mount Rushmore brings visitors face to face with the rich heritage we all share.
Mt. Rushmore was the brainchild of Doane Robinson, known as the “Father of Mount Rushmore.” His long life dream was to create a monument that would draw people from all over the country to his state.
After many studies and options on the table, Robinson contacted Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor who was working on the monument at Stone Mountain, GA.
A couple of weeks later in early 1925, Robinson and Borglum met and decided that Mt. Rushmore would be the perfect location for a grand monument and the dream began. Robinson worked with John Boland, President Calvin Coolidge, Congressman William Williamson, and Senator Peter Norbeck to gain support in Congress and the funding to proceed.
When Congress agreed to match up to $250,000 of funding for the project and created the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission, the work immediately started by some 400 men who were mostly miners seeking for gold in the hills of South Dakota.
The majority of them knew very little or nothing about carving a huge rock, let alone creating a giant work of art. While the money was considered good at $8 a day, the project would run out of money and the project closed down.
Before long Congress would match more of the funds raised and many of those same gold miners would leave mining to come back to help carve our president’s likeness into this gigantic rock.
Sadly, Gutzon Borglum died in March of 1941 before the monument was completed, but the work was almost done under the supervision of the National Park Service and on October 31st, 1941 the Mt. Rushmore monument was finished.
There are some amazing and historical and amazing facts about Mt. Rushmore.
For example, the face of President Thomas Jefferson was originally started on George Washington’s right, but that would only last for 18 months. Jefferson’s face was dynamited off and carved onto the other side.
Another interesting fact about this gargantuan project was that well over 90% of Mount Rushmore was carved using dynamite. The blasts removed approximately 450,000 tons of rock and all the minor details were finished with jackhammers and hand chisels.
The faces of Mount Rushmore are 60 feet high which are the same size as a six-story building. Washington’s nose is approximately 21 feet long and the rest of the faces have noses that measure about 20 feet.
The eyes of each president are 11 feet wide, and their mouths are approximately 18 feet wide.
There is a cave behind the carving called the “Hall of Records.” It was intended to house the story of Mount Rushmore but was never completed due to lack of funding.
During your vacation to Mount Rushmore, walk the Presidential Trail to the base of the mountain where you just might see mountain goats, enjoy the Avenue of Flags, browse the gift shop and spend time at the interactive museum and visitor center.
This internationally recognized “Shrine of Democracy”, Mount Rushmore National Memorial is open year-round, seven days a week and is located only 3 miles from Keystone and 17 miles from Rapid City, SD. A parking pass is required to visit Mount Rushmore and is reusable anytime during the year (this is not a National Park Fee).
The Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center and the Information Center are open from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. The evening program and lighting ceremony is offered at 9:00 p.m. through August 11 and then at 8:00 p.m. from August 12 through September 30.
The historic Sculptor’s Studio is open 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. through September 5. The Audio Tour building is open through September 30 from 8:00 am until 5:30 pm. Presidential Parking is open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. through August 11.
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