Facts About Mount Rushmore

Facts About Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore. Source: National Park Service

Mount Rushmore, also known as the President's Mountain, is located in the Black Hills of Keystone, South Dakota. The sculpture of four famous presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, was carved into the granite rock face. According to the National Park Service, the monument is visited each year by more than three million people. 

History of Mount Rushmore National Park 

Mount Rushmore National Park 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, Georgia.

Borglum met with Robinson during 1924 and 1925. He was the one who identified Mount Rushmore as a perfect location for a grand monument. This was due to the cliff's height above the surrounding area and the fact that it faced southeast to take advantage of the rising sun each day. 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.

Why Each of the Four Presidents Was Chosen

Borglum made the decision about which presidents to include on the mountain. Following are the main reasons according to the National Park Service why each was chosen for the sculpture:

  • George Washington - He was the first president and represented the foundation of American democracy.
  • Thomas Jefferson - With the Louisiana Purchase, he greatly expanded the nation. He was also the author of the hugely influential Declaration of Independence. 
  • Theodore Roosevelt - He not only represented the industrial development of the nation, but was also widely known for conservation efforts. 
  • Abraham Lincoln - As the president during the US Civil War, he represents the preservation of the nation above all costs. 

Facts About Mount Rushmore

  • 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.
  • It took 14 years to complete Mount Rushmore.
  • No one died while building Mount Rushmore.
  • 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.
  • George Washington's face is 60 feet long.
  • 90% of the heads were carved with dynamite
  • You can visit the Avenue of Flags at Mount Rushmore representing the 50 states, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. 
  • Gutzon Borglum studied in Paris and became friends with Auguste Rodin who heavily influenced the young artist. 
  • Borglum was the first American sculptor to have his work purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. 
  • While Borglum had begun the sculpture on Stone Mountain, Georgia, he never finished it. He left on bad terms, and his work was cleared away from the mountain face. Another sculptor, Augustus Lukeman, was called in to finish the work. 
  • Borglum was a member of the Freemasons and possibly a member of the Ku Klux Klan
  • Borglum was often away during the sculpting of Mount Rushmore. While it was being completed, he also made a sculpture of Thomas Paine for Paris and Woodrow Wilson for Poland. His son supervised the work on the mountain during his absence.