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Follow Me To Mount Rushmore

Updated on May 28, 2014

Mt Rushmore: A Great National Memorial

Mount Rushmore is more than just a carved rock in the Black Hills. It's a symbol of our country. Those four great faces symbolize the greatness of our nation through the greatness of it's leaders.

I'd like to tell you the story of Mount Rushmore. From the struggles of three men to keep their massive vision alive to the breathtaking sight it is today.

Have you been to Mount Rushmore?

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The original idea of Mount Rushmore came in 1923 from the superintendent of the South Dakota State Historical Society, Doane Robinson. His thought was to carve giant statues of western figures such as Chief Red Cloud, Buffalo Bill Cody, Lewis and Clark, and legendary Sioux warriors onto the Needles. To help carry out his plan, he enlisted the aid of U.S. Senator Peter Norbeck and master sculptor, Gutzom Borglum.

Although the three were easily able to secure federal legislation to allow a mountain carving in Harney National Forest, the project was at a standstill. They had no funding. Then, three years later in the spring of 1927, they saw their chance. President Coolidge decided to spend his 3 week vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota. During his stay, Senator Norbuck convinced him to participate in the formal dedication of Mount Rushmore. On August 10, the president rode horseback to Mount Rushmore, made an impassioned speech and pledged federal support for the project. And with that, Mount Rushmore was born.

The original site for Mount Rushmore - The Needles

The original site for Mount Rushmore - The Needles
The original site for Mount Rushmore - The Needles

Gutzom Borglum is the man responsible for making Mount Rushmore the success it is today. He's the one who decided to give the sculpture more national focus by carving the likeness of four presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. These presidents were selected by Borglum because of their role in preserving the Republic and expanding its territory. Next, Borglum decided to move the location of the sculpture. He determined that the eroded Needles were too brittle for carving and the spires disproportionate to the human form. He decided to use Mount Rushmore as the site for the carving because the rock was composed of smooth, fine-grained granite that erodes only 1 inch every 10,000 years. Plus the mountain faces the southeast, and that gave the workers plenty of direct sun for most of the day.

The massive 60 foot carving was started on October 4,1927. It took Borglum and 400 workers until October 31, 1941 to finish. The original plan was to carve each president from head to waist, but lack of funding prevented that. Also in the original plan was for Jefferson to be on Washington's right side. But during the process, it was discovered that the rock was unsuitable. So the figure of Jefferson was dynamited and his likeness was re-carved to Washington's right.

In March 1941, 8 months before the completion of the sculpture, Gutzom Borglum died from an embolism. Although his son, Lincoln Borglum, stepped up to finish the project, It was left largely in the state of completion it had reached under his father's direction

The total cost of the sculpture ended up being only $989,992.32.

Words from Gutzom 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"

The Mount Rushmore Memorial has changed greatly since it's completion in 1941. In 1998, the memorial celebrated the completion of a 10 year, multi-million dollar project to improve the visitor facilities. The project included a much needed larger parking lot, a walking trail that takes you much closer to the actual carving, and the Lincoln Borglum Museum.

The Avenue of Flags features flags of the 56 states and territories. The flags line both sides of the walkway and offer a spectacular first view of Mount Rushmore. The Avenue leads from the concession building to the Grandview Terrace. The terrace offers the view of Mount Rushmore you traditionally see in photos. The Grandview Terrace offers direct access to the Presidential Trail, a half mile trail that offers different views of the sculpture. The Terrace also offers access to the amphitheater, where the Lighting Ceremony is held every night at 9pm.

In 1938, Gutzom Borglum began carving a giant vault in the canyon wall directly behind Mount Rushmore. It was intended to be the entranceway to the great Hall of Records. Into this great hall, he planned to place records of the memorial, of Western civilization, of individual liberty and freedom (including the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence). But Borglum's death left the Hall of Records unfinished.

In 1998, the National Park Service completed a scaled down version of the hall. The vault now consists of 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 United States. This vault is not open to the public.

Mount Rushmore has been sited in many books, movies and amusement parks. In one popular movie, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, it marked the location of the mythical golden city of Cíbola. In Team America: World Police, it is the secret base of operations for the protagonists.

LegoLand of California, features a parody of Mount Rushmore built out of legos. Bedrock City in Custer, South Dakota features a parody of Mount Rushmore called Mt. Rockmore.

Pictures of Mount Rushmore

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mount Rushmore from the Grandview TerraceThe Avenue of FlagsWashington as seen from a cave on the Presidential TrailFireworks at Mount RushmoreThe lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore from the Grandview Terrace
Mount Rushmore from the Grandview Terrace
The Avenue of Flags
The Avenue of Flags
Washington as seen from a cave on the Presidential Trail
Washington as seen from a cave on the Presidential Trail
Fireworks at Mount Rushmore
Fireworks at Mount Rushmore
The lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore
The lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore

My own tribute to Mount Rushmore - Halloween 2010

My own tribute to Mount Rushmore - Halloween 2010
My own tribute to Mount Rushmore - Halloween 2010

Photos and text; © 2010-2013 Catherine Taylor. All Rights Reserved

Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

If you're thinking of visiting Mount Rushmore and would like some ideas on how to spend the rest of your vacation, please visit Follow me to South Dakota. And if you've already been to see those famous faces, please tell us about your experience.

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    • kristalulabelle profile image

      Kristen 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      We plan on driving to Mount Rushmore in August, can't wait to visit SD!

    • SaintFrantic profile image

      SaintFrantic 6 years ago

      Very interesting, Love that back picture.Thanks for the Lens

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 6 years ago from So Cal

      It is an amazing site. Originally disappointed that it looked so small, it is so hard to judge the scale of the carvings and the mountain itself. We really enjoyed our visit and it remains close to the top of the favorite places we have visited. Angel blessed

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 6 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      A very interesting place to visit. Love the Halloween photo!

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 6 years ago

      Hi! I agree with you it is more... it is a symbol for the country and we have to respect and preserve. I don't mind the humor with the "Behind Mount Rushmore" ... we are humans...

      I visited the place, it was impressive, better then the pictures.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 7 years ago

      I don't know what to think about it!

    • Meloramus profile image

      Meloramus 7 years ago

      I'd like to visit Mount Rushmore one day. It's pretty iconic.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      OK ... hello!!! That is hilarious that picture -- Behind Mount Rushmore -- it needs bigger billing. You know? What a fabulous monument and I do so hope to see it in person one day.

    • Othercatt profile image
      Author

      Othercatt 7 years ago

      @burgessvillian: You really should go see it again. With all the new improvements, it's just such a different experience. Especially the Presidential Trail. It gets you so much closer to the faces. I hope you get the chance to come again.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I would love to visit Mount Rushmore one day. I really enjoy learning more about it here. Thank you for adding to the plexo on my Promote Local Businesses and Events.

    • burgessvillian profile image

      burgessvillian 7 years ago

      I was there as a kid. My father has duel citizenship (Canadian and American) so he took us to The States every summer. I think it is totally awesome and so is this lens.

    • profile image

      kam_09_millie 7 years ago

      I really like this lens! It's very interesting. I never thought about visiting Mount Rushmore, but after reading this I might :)

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Excellent lens. I was here in 2005, it was unforgettable. I don't have any stories, but I plan on visiting again in the future.