Mount Rushmore

Artwork by Frank Cunha III (2013)

Mount Rushmore, the President’s Mountain, is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It was the brainchild of Doane Robinson, known as the “Father of Mount Rushmore.” His goal was to create an attraction that would draw people from all over the country to his state. Robinson contacted Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor who was working on the monument at Stone Mountain, GA. Borglum met with Robinson during 1924 and 1925. He was the one who identified Mount Rushmore as a perfect location for a grand monument. 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.

Congress agreed to match up to $250,000 of funding for the project and created the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission. Work began on the project. By 1933, the Mount Rushmore project became part of the National Park Service. Borglum did not like having the NPS oversee the construction. However, he continued to work on the project until his death in 1941. The monument was deemed complete and ready for dedication on October 31, 1941.

Artwork by Frank Cunha III (2013)

Facts About Mount Rushmore
• 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.
• Workers have to climb 506 steps to reach the top of Mount Rushmore each day to work.
• The president’s noses are 20 feet long, their mouths 18 feet wide, and their eyes are 11 feet across!
• No deaths occurred during the whole period of carving, just a few minor injuries despite the heights they had to deal with and the use of a huge amount of dynamite for construction.
• Thomas Jefferson was originally started on George Washington’s right. However, after 18 months they realized that it was not working. Jefferson’s face was dynamited off and carved on the other side.
• The sculpture cost $989,992.32 to build.
• 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.
• The estimated erosion rate is 1 inch every 10,000 years.
• The designer chose the south-facing slope of this 5,725-foot mountain so that his sculpture would remain in sunlight throughout the day.
• Workers carved 90 percent of the monument with strategically placed charges of dynamite. They shaped the rest of it with air hammers.
• The bust of Washington was dedicated in 1934, followed by those of Jefferson (1936), Lincoln (1937), and Roosevelt (1939).
• While writing the screenplay for director Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, Ernest Lehman tried—and failed—to scale the monument’s faces.
• In 2005, the memorial received its first and only cleaning when workers spent three weeks removing dirt and lichen.

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Frank Cunha III
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P.O. Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
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One Comment on “Mount Rushmore”

  1. Great post as always…we have many beautiful landmarks in our country. My son Noah visited Mount Rushmore earlier this year. The experience up close was powerful…the topography alone is dramatic and then the profiles……


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