Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a national memorial centered on a colossal sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore (Lakota: Tȟuŋkášila Šákpe, or Six Grandfathers) in the Black Hills near Keystone, South Dakota, United States. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum created the sculpture's design and oversaw the project's execution from 1927 to 1941 with the help of his son, Lincoln Borglum. The sculpture features the 60-foot-tall (18 m) heads of four United States Presidents recommended by Borglum: George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). The four presidents were chosen to represent the nation's birth, growth, development and preservation, respectively. The memorial park covers 1,278 acres (2.00 sq mi; 5.17 km2) and the mountain itself has an elevation of 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level.

The sculptor and tribal rep...Read more

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a national memorial centered on a colossal sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore (Lakota: Tȟuŋkášila Šákpe, or Six Grandfathers) in the Black Hills near Keystone, South Dakota, United States. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum created the sculpture's design and oversaw the project's execution from 1927 to 1941 with the help of his son, Lincoln Borglum. The sculpture features the 60-foot-tall (18 m) heads of four United States Presidents recommended by Borglum: George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). The four presidents were chosen to represent the nation's birth, growth, development and preservation, respectively. The memorial park covers 1,278 acres (2.00 sq mi; 5.17 km2) and the mountain itself has an elevation of 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level.

The sculptor and tribal representatives settled on Mount Rushmore, which also has the advantage of facing southeast for maximum sun exposure. Doane Robinson wanted it to feature American West heroes, such as Lewis and Clark, their expedition guide Sacagawea, Oglala Lakota chief Red Cloud, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Oglala Lakota chief Crazy Horse. Borglum believed that the sculpture should have broader appeal and chose the four presidents.

Peter Norbeck, U.S. senator from South Dakota, sponsored the project and secured federal funding. Construction began in 1927 and the presidents' faces were completed between 1934 and 1939. After Gutzon Borglum died in March 1941, his son Lincoln took over as leader of the construction project. Each president was originally to be depicted from head to waist, but lack of funding forced construction to end on October 31, 1941.

Sometimes referred to as the "Shrine of Democracy", Mount Rushmore attracts more than two million visitors annually.

For centuries, Mount Rushmore and the surrounding Black Hills have been considered sacred by various indigenous communities in the region, most recently the Lakota people, who called the mountain "Six Grandfathers"[1][2][3] (Tȟuŋkášila Šákpe).[citation needed] The mountain was a significant part of the spiritual journey by Lakota leader Black Elk (Heȟáka Sápa) that culminated at Black Elk Peak.[1] Under the Treaty of 1868, the U.S. government promised the territory, including the entirety of the Black Hills, to the Sioux "so long as the buffalo may range thereon in such numbers as to justify the chase."[4] After the discovery of gold on the land, American settlers migrated to the area in the 1870s. The federal government then forced the Sioux to relinquish the Black Hills portion of their reservation.[5] 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.[citation needed]


Beginning with a prospecting expedition in 1885 with David Swanzey (husband of Carrie Ingalls), and Bill Challis, wealthy investor Charles E. Rushmore began visiting the area regularly on prospecting and hunting trips. He repeatedly joked with colleagues about naming the mountain after himself.[6][7] The United States Board of Geographic Names officially recognized the name "Mount Rushmore" in June 1930.[2]

Concept, design and funding

Mount Rushmore was conceived with the intention of creating a site to lure tourists, representing "not only the wild grandeur of its local geography but also the triumph of western civilization over that geography through its anthropomorphic representation."[8] The four presidential faces were said to be carved into the granite with the intention of symbolizing "an accomplishment born, planned, and created in the minds and by the hands of Americans for Americans".[8] Though for the latest occupants of the land at the time, the Lakota Sioux, as well as other tribes, the monument in their view "came to epitomize the loss of their sacred lands and the injustices they've suffered under the U.S. government."[5]

Historian Doane Robinson conceived the idea for Mount Rushmore in 1923 to promote tourism in South Dakota. In 1924, Robinson persuaded sculptor Gutzon Borglum to travel to the Black Hills region to ensure the carving could be accomplished. The original plan was to make the carvings in granite pillars known as the Needles. However, Borglum realized that the eroded Needles were too thin to support sculpting. He chose Mount Rushmore, a grander location, partly because it faced southeast and enjoyed maximum exposure to the sun.[9]

Borglum said upon seeing Mount Rushmore, "America will march along that skyline."[9]

Borglum had been involved in sculpting the Stone Mountain Memorial to Confederate leaders in Georgia, but was in disagreement with the officials there.[10]

U.S. Senator Peter Norbeck and Congressman William Williamson of South Dakota introduced bills in early 1925 for permission to use federal land,[11] which passed easily. South Dakota legislation had less support, only passing narrowly on its third attempt, which Governor Carl Gunderson signed into law on March 5, 1925. Private funding came slowly and Borglum invited President Calvin Coolidge to an August 1927 dedication ceremony, at which he promised federal funding. Congress passed the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Act, signed by Coolidge, which authorized up to $250,000 in matching funds. The 1929 presidential transition to Herbert Hoover delayed funding until an initial federal match of $54,670.56 was acquired.[12]

Carving started in 1927 and ended in 1941 with no fatalities.[13][14]

Mount Rushmore (Six Grandfathers) before construction, c. 1905
Construction underway, with Jefferson to the left of Washington before unstable rock necessitated a change in the design
A model at the site depicting Mount Rushmore's intended final design after Jefferson was relocated and "before funding ran out"[15]
Construction of George Washington's likeness
Closeup view of final sculptures

Between October 4, 1927, and October 31, 1941, Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers[16] sculpted the colossal 60-foot-high (18 m) carvings of United States Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln to represent the first 150 years of American history. These presidents were selected by Borglum because of their role in preserving the Republic and expanding its territory.[9][8] The carving of Mount Rushmore involved the use of dynamite, followed by the process of "honeycombing", a process where workers drill holes close together, allowing small pieces to be removed by hand.[17] In total, about 450,000 short tons (410,000 t) of rock were blasted off the mountainside.[18] 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.[9]

Plaque at Mount Rushmore National Monument with names of monument workers

The chief carver of the mountain was Luigi Del Bianco, an artisan and stonemason in Port Chester, New York. Del Bianco emigrated to the U.S. from Friuli in Italy and was chosen to work on this project because of his understanding of sculptural language and ability to imbue emotion in the carved portraits.[19][20]

In 1933, the National Park Service took Mount Rushmore under its jurisdiction. Julian Spotts helped with the project by improving its infrastructure. For example, he had the tram upgraded so it could reach the top of Mount Rushmore for the ease of workers. By July 4, 1934, Washington's face had been completed and was dedicated. The face of Thomas Jefferson was dedicated in 1936, and the face of Abraham Lincoln was dedicated on September 17, 1937. In 1937, a bill was introduced in Congress to add the head of civil-rights leader Susan B. Anthony, but a rider was passed on an appropriations bill requiring federal funds be used to finish only those heads that had already been started at that time.[21] In 1939, the face of Theodore Roosevelt was dedicated.[22]

The Sculptor's Studio – a display of unique plaster models and tools related to the sculpting – was built in 1939 under the direction of Borglum. Borglum died from an embolism in March 1941. His son, Lincoln Borglum, continued the project. Originally, it was planned that the figures would be carved from head to waist,[23] but insufficient funding forced the carving to end. Borglum had also planned a massive panel in the shape of the Louisiana Purchase commemorating in eight-foot-tall gilded letters the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Louisiana Purchase, and seven other territorial acquisitions from the Alaska purchase to the Panama Canal Zone.[8] In total, the entire project cost US$989,992.32 (equivalent to $18.2 million in 2021).[24]

Nick Clifford, the last remaining carver, died in November 2019 at age 98.[25]

View of Mount Rushmore as seen from SD 244
Visitor and information center area and walkway toward viewing platform
Aerial view of Mount Rushmore and buildings
Mount Rushmore and flag display
View of Mount Rushmore from the air
Visitor center

Harold Spitznagel and Cecil Doty designed the original visitor center, finished in 1957.[26] These structures were part of the Mission 66 effort to improve visitors' facilities at national parks and monuments across the country.[27]

Ten years of redevelopment work culminated with the completion of extensive visitor facilities and sidewalks in 1998, such as a Visitor Center, the Lincoln Borglum Museum, and the Presidential Trail. Maintenance of the memorial requires mountain climbers to monitor and seal cracks annually.[28] Due to budget constraints, the memorial is not regularly cleaned to remove lichens. However, on July 8, 2005, Alfred Kärcher, a German manufacturer of pressure washing and steam cleaning machines, conducted a free cleanup operation which lasted several weeks, using pressurized water at over 200 °F (93 °C).[29]

On October 15, 1966, Mount Rushmore was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A 500-word essay giving the history of the United States by Nebraska student William Andrew Burkett was selected as the college-age group winner in a 1934 competition, and that essay was placed on the Entablature on a bronze plate in 1973.[21][30] In 1991, President George H. W. Bush officially dedicated Mount Rushmore.[31]

Proposals of adding additional faces

In 1937, when the sculpture was not yet complete, a bill in Congress supporting the addition of women's rights activist Susan B. Anthony failed. When the sculpture was completed in 1941, the sculptors said that the remaining rock was not suitable for additional carvings. This stance was shared by RESPEC, an engineering firm charged with monitoring the stability of the rock in 1989. However, proposals of additional sculptures have been made regardless. These include John F. Kennedy after his assassination in 1963, and Ronald Reagan in 1985 and 1999 – the latter proposal receiving a debate in Congress at the time.[32] Barack Obama was asked about his own potential addition in 2008 and he joked that his ears were too large.[33]

Donald Trump has on occasion expressed interest in his own addition to the mountain. During a 2017 rally in Ohio, he said "I'd ask whether or not you some day think I will be on Mount Rushmore. If I did it joking – totally joking, having fun – the fake news media will say, ‘He believes he should be on Mount Rushmore.’ So I won't say it.” By the 2018 account of South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, Trump described the potential addition as his "dream" in conversation. In August 2020 it was alleged that the previous year, White House aides working for President Donald Trump made contact with Noem the previous year about the process of adding additional presidents, including Trump, to the monument.[34] Trump denied the accusation on his official Twitter account, saying he never "suggested it although, based on all of the many things accomplished during the first 3+12 years, perhaps more than any other Presidency, sounds like a good idea to me!"[35]

According to a survey of political science experts conducted by The New York Times in 2018, Franklin D. Roosevelt was the most popular choice for addition to Mount Rushmore, regardless of party affiliation. In total, 66% of respondents would choose Roosevelt, followed by Barack Obama at 7% and Ronald Reagan at 5%. Among Democrats, Roosevelt was chosen by 75%, followed by Obama at 11%. Among Republicans, Roosevelt was chosen by 43%, followed by Reagan at 19%. Among Independents, Roosevelt was chosen by 57%, followed by both Reagan and Dwight D. Eisenhower at 11%.[36]

^ a b Harmanşah, Ömür (2015). "Six Grandfathers: Landscapes and Power". Place, Memory, and Healing: An Archaeology of Anatolian Rock Monuments. Routledge. p. 16. doi:10.4324/9781315739106. ISBN 978-1-317-57571-9. ^ a b Saum, Bradley (2017). Black Elk Peak: A History. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4396-6050-8. ^ "Untold Stories Discussion Guide: Baker and Mount Rushmore" (PDF). The National Parks: America's Best Idea. PBS. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 18, 2015. Mount Rushmore – a rocky outcropping the Lakota had called 'The Six Grandfathers,' named for the earth, the sky, and the four directions ^ "ARTICLES OF A TREATY . . .", The Avalon Project, 2008, Lillian Goldman Law Library. Retrieved 21 Aug 2021. ^ a b "Native Americans and Mount Rushmore". PBS. Retrieved March 26, 2020. ^ Keystone Area Historical Society Keystone Characters Archived September 9, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved October 3, 2006. ^ Belanger, Ian A.; Kennedy, Sally; Allison; McMeen, Melissa; Arnold, John (April 21, 2002). "Mt. Rushmore — presidents on the rocks". Archived from the original on May 14, 2006. Retrieved January 11, 2016. ^ a b c d Boime, Albert (Winter–Spring 1991). "Patriarchy Fixed in Stone: Gutzon Borglum's 'Mount Rushmore'". American Art. 5 (1/2): 142–67. doi:10.1086/424112. S2CID 191573145. Retrieved September 15, 2020. ^ a b c d "Carving History". National Park Service. August 2, 2004. Archived from the original on October 10, 2006. ^ "People & Events: The Carving of Stone Mountain". American Experience. PBS. Archived from the original on April 13, 2010. Retrieved March 17, 2010. ^ "Historical Letters and Legislation". National Park Service. May 23, 2022. Retrieved December 14, 2022. ^ "Memorial History". National Park Service. May 23, 2022. Retrieved December 14, 2022. ^ "Mount Rushmore National Memorial Frequently Asked Questions". National Park Service. Retrieved December 2, 2009. ^ Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Retrieved June 7, 2006. ^ "Rare Photos From The Past". p. 5. Archived from the original on January 19, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2019. 1941, the original mockup of Mt. Rushmore before funding ran out. ^ "Carving History". National Park Service. Retrieved February 22, 2013. ^ "Honeycombing process explained from". June 14, 2004. Archived from the original on August 1, 2008. Retrieved March 20, 2010. ^ "Geology Fieldnotes". January 4, 2005. Archived from the original on October 16, 2011. Retrieved October 22, 2010. ^ Cite error: The named reference delBianco was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Cite error: The named reference delBiancoSDMag was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ a b American Experience Archived November 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine "Timeline: Mount Rushmore" (2002). Retrieved March 20, 2006. ^ Cope, Willard (July 7, 1939). "Remember Stone Mountain's Mighty Memorial?". The Atlanta Constitution. Atlanta, Georgia. p. 9 – via ^ Mount Rushmore National Memorial Archived December 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. ^ Mount Rushmore National Memorial Archived February 24, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. Tourism in South Dakota. Laura R. Ahmann. Retrieved March 19, 2006. ^ Reagan, Nick (November 23, 2019). "Last carver of Mount Rushmore dies at 98". Retrieved November 26, 2019. ^ Lathrop, Alan K. (Winter 2007). "Designing for South Dakota and the Upper Midwest: The Career of Architect Harold T. Spitznagel, 1930—1974" (PDF). South Dakota History. 37 (4): 271–305. ^ Allaback, Sarah (2000). "Mission 66 Visitor Centers: The History of a Building Type". National Park Service. ^ Building 31, Mailing Address: 13000 Highway 244; Keystone, Suite 1; May, SD 57751 Phone:574–2523 Park information Phones are answered 7 days a week Hours are 8:00 – 5:00 October through; mid-August, 8:00–10:00 June through; Us, 8:00–9:00 mid-August through September All times are Mountain Time Contact. "Preservation – Mount Rushmore National Memorial (U.S. National Park Service)". Retrieved June 18, 2021. ^ "For Mount Rushmore, An Overdue Face Wash". The Washington Post. July 11, 2005. Retrieved March 17, 2010. ^ "Text of 1934 Essay – History of the United States" (PDF). Retrieved August 27, 2017. ^ "George Bush: Remarks at the Dedication Ceremony of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota". The American Presidency Project. July 3, 1991. Retrieved August 27, 2017. ^ "World: Americas Reagan for Rushmore". BBC. March 1, 1999. Retrieved November 25, 2020. ^ Lawrence, Tom (June 26, 2020). "Adding fifth face to Mount Rushmore National Memorial has been political football for decades". Argus Leader. USA Today Network. Retrieved November 25, 2020. ^ Ehrlich, Jamie (August 9, 2020). "New York Times: White House reached out to South Dakota governor about adding Trump to Mount Rushmore". CNN. Retrieved August 10, 2020. ^ Belam, Martin (August 10, 2020). "Donald Trump denies asking how to add face to Mount Rushmore". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved August 10, 2020. ^ Rottinghaus, Brandon; Vaughn, Justin S. (February 19, 2018). "How Does Trump Stack Up Against the Best — and Worst — Presidents?". The New York Times. Retrieved March 15, 2021.
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