Happy 75th Anniversary Mount Rushmore

Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota and carved into a 5,725 foot high mountain of granite, Mount Rushmore National Memorial features the faces of our U.S. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.  This year Mount Rushmore celebrated it’s 75th anniversary on October 31st.

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Carving began on October 4, 1927 by Sculptor Gutzon Borglum.  More than 90% was carved using dynamite, the rest by jackhammers and hand chisels.  Borglum hired approximately 30 men at a time to assist his creation, totaling more than 400 individuals by completion.  Would you believe, each worker had to climb 700 stairs every morning to punch a time clock.  Whew!

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To give you a perspective of size, George Washington’s head is 60 feet tall, with a 20 foot nose, an 18 foot wide mouth, and each eye is 11 feet across.  At these proportions, if George’s entire body was carved, he’d have been as tall as a 40-story building.

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First President George Washington

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Third President Thomas Jefferson and 26th President Theodore Roosevelt

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16th President Abraham Lincoln

Actually, the original carvings were to be Wild West heroes to include explorers Lewis & Clark, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Sioux Chief Red Cloud.  But Borglum was inspired to due something more of a national significance.

Washington was chosen to represent our country’s founding, Jefferson for growth (purchasing of the Louisiana Territory, doubling our country’s size), Roosevelt for development (the National Park Service and the Panama Canal), and Lincoln for preservation (served during the Civil War and credited for keeping our country united).

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For 18 months, Thomas Jefferson’s face was on Washington’s right, but undetected fractures in the rock caused the stone to be too weak.  Borglum was forced to change his design to put Jefferson on Washington’s left.  This change actually provided Washington’s profile to show perfectly from one pull-over location along Highway 244.

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In 1937, a bill was introduced to Congress to propose social reformer and women’s suffrage activist, Susan B. Anthony’s face to be added to the Memorial.  Unfortunately, the proposal fell through due to limited federal funds.

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Although the carving was not complete, early in 1941 Congress cut all funding for Mount Rushmore.  Sculptor Borglum died a week later.  His son, Lincoln Borglum, oversaw some final touches throughout the rest of the year on his own to best complete his father’s masterpiece.  Congress then declared the monument complete October 31, 1941.

However, per Gutzon Borglum before his death, it was not yet complete.  Borglum specifically calculated three extra inches on all the face features to allow for natural weathering.  He had stated, “Three inches would require 300,000 years to bring the work down to the point that I would like to finish it.  In other words, the work will not be done for another 300,000 years, as it should be.”

From 1927 to 1941, the total cost to carve Mount Rushmore was $989,992.32, mostly paid from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

What an awe-inspiring, magnificent work of art for visitors to see year-round.

 

18 thoughts on “Happy 75th Anniversary Mount Rushmore

  1. Very nice set of pictures Donna! I was there some years ago, it thrilled me to see the tremendous work done by the stone workers! It’s an exceptional Monument! Thanks for the post! 🙂

    • Thanks so much HJ! Before this summer, I visited Mt Rushmore when I was five years old. I don’t remember it back then, but this summer’s visit was definitely most enjoyed seeing it. 🙂

  2. I really enjoyed learning about Mt. Rushmore, Donna — interesting facts and fantastic photos. I would like to visit someday, but until then, this was terrific. I love it that North by Northwest final suspense scene was filmed here.

  3. i giganti nella pietra! Lo spirito immortale che abita le montagne, la speranza che lo spirito di libertà e di democrazia che in loro ha abitato conservi integri questi valori per i posteri
    immagini straordinarie
    vivissimi complimenti e mille grazie

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