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Mt. Rushmore Builder Talks to Me

Updated on March 5, 2016

Nick and I

Nick Clifford was a worker on the Mt. Rushmore faces. He also has a baseball card that he's on.
Nick Clifford was a worker on the Mt. Rushmore faces. He also has a baseball card that he's on. | Source

It Was During a Road Trip in South Dakota

It was during the second week of September, 2015, that I agreed to participate in a road trip with my husband and a couple of his friends and one of the friends wives. She talked me into the trip since she was going to be travelling alone with all the guys and begged me to come with.

I argued, since I didn't relish the thought of having to drive hundreds of miles on a motorcycle through terrain that included steep grades, small shoulders, tight turns, speeds approaching the speed of light, etc. You know the scenario. I'd be holding them back, since I'd be driving my own motorcycle. They'd have to baby me. I'm afraid of heights. I'm afraid of cars. I had every excuse in the book for a reason why they should go without me. I tried.

"How long has it been since you've been to South Dakota?" she asked me.

Well. The last time I had been to South Dakota was in 1975, when I spent three days selling three cases of lightbulbs to my neighbors so that I could go on a trip to Wyoming with my confirmation class. That trip was spent sleeping in KOA campgrounds in tents before we embarked on walking across a mountain area called Clarks Pass.

Our church group visited Wall Drug, Mt. Rushmore, Mt. Rushmore Caves. We rode some tram down the side of a mountain. We watched helicopters rides coming and going. We went in some cave. We played in rocks. [reminder, we were kids at the time - 13 years old]

We drove to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and sat through a six hour, two stage performance of the Passion Play. I thought that the play was interesting, since they did the entire life and death of Jesus with two stages. One would be lit up and, then it went dark and the other stage lit up and the play continued. It was very dramatic and cool!


"It's been 40 years since you've been to South Dakota?", she asked.

Yeah. 40 years, I thought to myself.

She then said, "It's time you go again!"

So, guess what happened then.

The Story

I was looking for that special souvenir in the gift shop and as I was walking through the shop, I happened upon an older gentleman who was sitting there at a table piled with books. I was startled, since I turned around and there he was, looking at me. "Got a question?" He asked me.

I was startled. I may seem like an outgoing person, but the ingrained "don't talk to people you don't know" seems to work very well in my brain. Even though I processed his question and looked at him, I hesitated. I hadn't really seen him before he spoke at me. I spent a frantic second looking him over and decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. [after all, I was in a crowded store... ] So. As I started to relax and evaluate my answer, I spoke back at him.

"Um, No.", Under pressure to come up with a question, I then looked at him and then at his display. It was then, that I discovered why he was sitting there. When I glanced the book he was presenting and noticed that the book had him on it. Then, I realized that it was a book signing.

For his book. The one he wrote about his experience during the years that he was a worker on Mt. Rushmore. The book was written by him, about him and there he was, sitting at a table at Mt. Rushmore Gift Shop, signing the copies as people stopped to buy a copy.

That's why he looked older. He was older. He was one of the original workers on Mt. Rushmore. I discovered that he had worked on Mt. Rushmore way back in the 1930's/1940's era. And, here was his book. He was signing them. They cost twelve dollars and he signed them with his name and whatever inscription you wanted.

That's when I decided to buy the book. I thought to myself, how often does a person get the opportunity to discuss a National Monument with a person who actually spent part of his working career building it? You know... the moment was one that would never present itself again.

I had him write To Char - since that is my name and I figured I'd have him make it simple. None of that mushy stuff - you know, like the time we've had together, although short, was wonderful [etcetera] Yeah, just, To Char. The book came with a baseball card, with him on it, and an explanation of the fact that he had been on a baseball team and that they were good, way back when.

And, his signature was on the baseball card, too.

Nick Clifford

I think it is cool to have a book that talks about the experience building Mt. Rushmore. Plus, I think it is cool that I got to meet someone who was involved with it, in the early years.

I shook his hand and had my picture taken with him. I will remember him as being important to me. It was nice to meet him and I wish him well.

Did You Know

Did you know that you can get your own baseball card with your own picture on it directly from the Topps website. It's a cute novelty item. Topps has a page that you can upload your own photo and they will print baseball or football cards for you.

I still think it is cool that I got one from Nick, but I was curious to know if I could get some for my nut slice business. The answer is yes. I'd like to put squirrel pictures on mine. I'm going to have to come up with some cutesey names for my squirrels.

Baseball Cards are Popular Cards


Baseball Cards

Available at Mt. Rushmore

You can purchase the book on Amazon. There was one available, but I'm still glad I got mine direct from the author. That means a lot!

How About You

Have you met Nick and/or been to Mt. Rushmore?

See results


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