Mount Rushmore, a national memorial and iconic symbol of American democracy, is located in the Black Hills region of South Dakota, USA. This colossal sculpture is a testament to the nation’s rich history and the visionary leadership of its presidents.
The massive sculpture known as Mount Rushmore National Memorial is located in the Black Hills of southwest South Dakota, United States. It is located 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Custer, around 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Rapid City, and immediately north of Custer State Park. On the southeast face of Mount Rushmore, enormous granite sculptures of the heads of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln stand roughly sixty feet (18 meters) tall. At 5,725 feet (1,745 meters) in elevation, the mountain was named in 1885 in honor of New York lawyer Charles E. Rushmore. The memorial was established in 1925 and dedicated in 1927, covering an area of two square miles or five square kilometers. In 1933, the National Park Service (NPS) of the United States took over the management of the property.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is situated near Keystone, South Dakota, within the Black Hills National Forest. It is approximately 23 miles southwest of Rapid City, South Dakota. The site’s precise location is marked by the following coordinates: 43.8791° N latitude and 103.4591° W longitude.
The idea for Mount Rushmore was conceived by historian and author Doane Robinson, who wanted to create a monumental work to attract tourists to South Dakota. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum was chosen to design and sculpt the mountain. The project commenced in 1927 and continued for 14 years, ultimately led by Gutzon’s son, Lincoln Borglum, after Gutzon’s death.
Mount Rushmore features the carved faces of four prominent American presidents:
- George Washington: The first President of the United States, who served from 1789 to 1797 and is often referred to as the “Father of His Country.”
- Thomas Jefferson: The third President (1801-1809) and principal author of the Declaration of Independence.
- Theodore Roosevelt: The 26th President (1901-1909), known for his conservation efforts and role in brokering peace during the Russo-Japanese War.
- Abraham Lincoln: The 16th President (1861-1865), who led the nation through the Civil War and issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
Why these four presidents?
The selection of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln as the four presidents to be immortalized on Mount Rushmore was a decision made by sculptor Gutzon Borglum. Each of these presidents was chosen because, from Borglum’s perspective, they symbolized significant events and themes in American history.
- George Washington:
As the first President of the United States, George Washington played a pivotal role in leading the colonists during the American Revolutionary War to gain independence from Great Britain. Often referred to as the “Father of His Country,” Washington’s leadership laid the foundation for American democracy, representing the birth of the United States. His image occupies the most prominent position on the mountain.
- Thomas Jefferson:
Thomas Jefferson, the third President, is celebrated for his role as the primary author of the Declaration of Independence. This historic document has inspired democracies worldwide. Jefferson’s presidency also marked the acquisition of the Louisiana Territory in 1803, doubling the size of the United States and symbolizing the nation’s growth.
- Theodore Roosevelt:
The 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, assumed leadership during a period of rapid economic growth as the United States entered the 20th century. He was instrumental in negotiating the construction of the Panama Canal, which connected the eastern and western parts of the country. Known as the “trust buster,” Roosevelt worked to dismantle large corporate monopolies and protect the rights of the common working man. His representation on Mount Rushmore signifies the development of the United States.
- Abraham Lincoln:
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President, is perhaps best known for his unwavering commitment to preserving the United States during the Civil War. He firmly believed in the abolition of slavery, and his leadership held the nation together during one of its most significant trials. Lincoln’s image on the mountain represents the preservation of the United States and the enduring struggle for freedom and equality.
Who sculpted the four presidents on Mount Rushmore?
Mount Rushmore was sculpted by Gutzon Borglum, a prominent American artist and sculptor. Gutzon Borglum, along with his son Lincoln Borglum, led the efforts to create this iconic monument. The work on Mount Rushmore began in 1927 and continued for approximately 14 years, with Gutzon Borglum overseeing the project until his death in 1941. His son, Lincoln Borglum, then took over the responsibility for its completion. Mount Rushmore stands as a testament to their artistic vision and the dedication of the many workers who contributed to its creation.
These selections were made by Gutzon Borglum based on his interpretation of American history and the qualities he believed these presidents embodied. Whether another artist at the time or a modern artist would have chosen differently is a matter of interpretation and artistic vision. Mount Rushmore’s representation of these four presidents has become an enduring symbol of American democracy and the nation’s commitment to liberty, unity, and democratic principles.
Significance: Mount Rushmore symbolizes the values, ideals, and leadership of these four presidents during crucial periods in American history. It’s not only a remarkable work of art but also a tribute to the nation’s democratic principles. The monument attracts millions of visitors from around the world each year, serving as a reminder of the American spirit and its commitment to liberty, democracy, and unity.
Visiting Mount Rushmore: Visitors to Mount Rushmore can explore the Avenue of Flags, the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center, and the Presidential Trail, which offers closer views of the sculpture. There are also educational programs and ranger-led talks available to enhance the visitor experience. Additionally, the surrounding Black Hills region offers numerous outdoor activities and attractions, making Mount Rushmore a central feature of this beautiful area.
Note: While visiting Mount Rushmore, it’s important to respect the site’s historical and cultural significance by adhering to park regulations and guidelines to help preserve this national treasure for future generations.
Visiting Mount Rushmore Memorial
Each year, slightly more than two million people visit Mount Rushmore. The months of June, July, and August are the busiest. Although less crowded, May, September, and October are nevertheless popular travel months.
Do you wish to stay away from the crowds? Think of going there after 3:30 p.m. or before 9:00 a.m.
Visiting Mount Rushmore is a remarkable experience that offers a glimpse into American history and monumental artistry. Here’s what you can expect when planning a visit to this iconic site:
- Location: Mount Rushmore National Memorial is located near Keystone in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The address is 13000 Highway 244, Keystone, SD 57751.
- Getting There: The nearest major airport is Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP), which is about a 30-minute drive from Mount Rushmore. You can rent a car at the airport or take a shuttle service to reach the site.
- Entrance Fees: As of my knowledge cutoff date in September 2021, there is a parking fee to enter the memorial, which covers access to the site and its facilities. The fee is per vehicle and includes unlimited entry for one year. Be sure to check the most up-to-date fee information on the official Mount Rushmore National Memorial website.
- Visitor Center: Start your visit at the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center. Here, you can watch a short film about the history of Mount Rushmore, view informative exhibits, and obtain park maps and information.
- Presidential Trail: Explore the Presidential Trail, a 0.5-mile walking path that offers different perspectives of the carved faces of the four presidents. This trail is a great way to get up close to the monument.
- Evening Lighting Ceremony: Witness the nightly lighting ceremony that illuminates the faces of the presidents. It’s a patriotic and moving experience. Check the park’s schedule for the exact time of the lighting ceremony during your visit.
- Avenue of Flags: Take a stroll along the Avenue of Flags, which features flags from all 50 states, one district, three territories, and two commonwealths of the United States.
- Lincoln Borglum Museum: Visit the Lincoln Borglum Museum, which features exhibits about the sculptor Gutzon Borglum and the creation of Mount Rushmore. You can also use an explosives plunger to simulate carving the mountain.
- Gift Shops: Mount Rushmore has gift shops where you can purchase souvenirs, including books, apparel, and memorabilia.
- Food: There is a café on-site where you can enjoy a meal or refreshments. Keystone, the nearby town, also offers various dining options.
- Hiking: If you’re interested in hiking, explore the scenic trails in the surrounding Black Hills, including the Black Elk Peak Trail in Custer State Park.
- Nearby Attractions: Consider extending your visit to explore other attractions in the Black Hills area, such as Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer State Park, and Badlands National Park.
- Photography: Be sure to bring your camera to capture stunning photos of the monument against the natural backdrop of the Black Hills.
- Visitor Etiquette: Please be respectful of the site’s historical and cultural significance. Follow park rules and guidelines for the safety and preservation of the memorial.
Keep in mind that some details may change, so it’s a good idea to check the official Mount Rushmore National Memorial website for the most current information on fees, hours of operation, and any special events. Enjoy your visit to Mount Rushmore and the beautiful Black Hills region!
A visit to Mount Rushmore offers a unique opportunity to experience the grandeur of American history and craftsmanship. Here’s a suggested itinerary to make the most of your trip to Mount Rushmore:
Day 1: Arrival in Keystone, South Dakota
- Morning: Arrive at Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP) or your chosen point of entry. If you’re flying in, rent a car or take a shuttle to Keystone, the gateway to Mount Rushmore.
- Lunch: Enjoy lunch in Keystone at one of the local restaurants.
- Afternoon: Check into your accommodation in Keystone or the nearby area.
- Evening: Head to Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Start with a visit to the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center. Watch the informative film, explore exhibits, and pick up park maps.
- Sunset: Stroll along the Presidential Trail to view the illuminated faces of the presidents during the evening lighting ceremony. It’s a moving and patriotic experience.
Day 2: Exploring Mount Rushmore
- Morning: Return to Mount Rushmore for a daytime visit. Take your time to walk the Presidential Trail to get up close to the carved faces of the presidents.
- Lunch: Enjoy a meal at the Carver’s Café on-site or head into Keystone for dining options.
- Afternoon: Visit the Lincoln Borglum Museum to learn more about the sculptor and the monument’s creation. Try your hand at the explosives plunger exhibit.
- Late Afternoon: Take a leisurely walk along the Avenue of Flags.
- Evening: Attend the evening lighting ceremony once more to experience the monument in a different light.
Day 3: Explore the Black Hills
- Morning: After checking out of your accommodation, start your day with a scenic drive through Custer State Park. Don’t forget to visit the famous Needles Highway and Sylvan Lake.
- Lunch: Enjoy a picnic in Custer State Park or dine in the charming town of Custer.
- Afternoon: Explore Crazy Horse Memorial, another impressive mountain sculpture. Learn about its history, culture, and significance.
- Late Afternoon: Drive to Badlands National Park for a different natural wonder. Explore its unique landscapes and take in the scenic views.
- Evening: Drive to Rapid City or nearby for your overnight stay.
Day 4: Departure
- Morning: If time allows, visit other attractions in Rapid City, such as the Journey Museum or the Dinosaur Park.
- Lunch: Have a farewell lunch in Rapid City.
- Afternoon: Depending on your flight or departure schedule, explore the city a bit more or head to Rapid City Regional Airport for your journey home.
Please note that this itinerary is a suggestion and can be adjusted based on your interests, the time you have available, and the specific hours of operation of the sites. Make sure to check the latest information on the official Mount Rushmore National Memorial website and other attraction websites for any updates or changes to hours and access. Enjoy your visit to Mount Rushmore and the beautiful Black Hills region!
Facts about Mount Rushmore
Here are 75 interesting facts about Mount Rushmore:
- The idea for creating a sculpture in the Black Hills was conceived in 1923 by South Dakota historian Doane Robinson to attract tourists to the state.
- Mount Rushmore is visited by nearly 3 million people annually.
- Initially, the project aimed to sculpt Western heroes like Red Cloud, Lewis and Clark, and Buffalo Bill Cody into the Needles, a nearby stone formation.
- Sculptor Gutzon Borglum was enlisted for the project and envisioned something grander.
- Gutzon Borglum dreamt of carving a mountain and was looking for a project when South Dakota called.
- The Needles site was deemed too narrow for sculpting, so they chose Mount Rushmore for better exposure to the sun.
- Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln, selected four presidents to be carved.
- The presidents were chosen for their significant roles in the nation’s founding, expansion, preservation, and unification.
- George Washington was chosen as the founding father of the nation.
- Thomas Jefferson represented expansion due to the Louisiana Purchase and the Declaration of Independence.
- Theodore Roosevelt symbolized conservation and the nation’s industrial growth.
- Abraham Lincoln led the nation during the Civil War and believed in preserving it at all costs.
- The mountain was known as the “Six Grandfathers” to the Lakota.
- Its official name, Mount Rushmore, was coined by New York lawyer Charles E. Rushmore.
- Mount Rushmore’s carving began in 1927 and finished in 1941.
- The actual carving was performed by a team of over 400 men.
- No fatalities occurred during construction.
- Workers were miners who had come to the Black Hills looking for gold.
- The carving primarily involved dynamite and the removal of over 450,000 tons of rock.
- The final surface is as smooth as a concrete sidewalk.
- Workers were lowered down the mountain’s face in bosun chairs held by thick steel cables.
- Young boys, known as call boys, relayed messages between operators and workers.
- One artist, Korczak Ziolkowski, briefly worked on the project but left after a heated argument.
- The mountain once had its amateur baseball team.
- Competitive sculptor Gutzon Borglum hired players based on their baseball skills.
- In 1939, the Rushmore Memorial baseball team took second place at the South Dakota amateur baseball tournament.
- A complex pointing machine was used to map the sculpture onto the mountain.
- It was based on a 1:12 scale model.
- 90% of the mountain was carved with dynamite.
- The rest required fine carving to achieve a smooth surface.
- Drillers and finishers were lowered on the mountain’s face in bosun chairs.
- Workers at the top hand-cranked a winch to raise and lower drillers.
- Young boys shouted messages to operators to adjust the speed.
- Each president’s face is 60 feet high.
- The faces appear in the order: Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Lincoln.
- Jefferson was originally meant to be on Washington’s right.
- After two years of work, the rock for Jefferson was found unsuitable and was removed.
- Washington’s face was completed in 1934.
- Jefferson’s in 1936.
- Lincoln’s in 1937.
- A bill in 1937 aimed to add Susan B. Anthony’s image to the mountain.
- Congress passed a bill requiring only the heads that had already been started to be completed.
- Gutzon Borglum began blasting a Hall of Records into the mountain secretly in 1938.
- The Hall was meant to house vital documents like the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
- Funding ran out, and it was declared complete on October 31, 1941.
- The project cost $989,992.32 and took 14 years to finish.
- The Hall of Records was realized in 1998 when documents were sealed in a vault.
- The Hall of Records played a role in the movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
- Sculptor Gutzon Borglum passed away in March 1941, leaving the monument to his son, Lincoln.
- The carving was initially meant to include the presidents’ bodies down to their waists.
- A massive panel with gilded letters commemorating territorial acquisitions was also planned.
- Funding issues led to the project’s completion without these elements.
- The mountain’s namesake, Charles E. Rushmore, donated $5,000 to the project.
- The Hall of Records was realized with porcelain tablets containing important historical documents.
- The memorial is illuminated for two hours every night.
- An LED lighting system was installed in 2015 to minimize environmental impacts.
- Some believe they can see an elephant’s face on the mountain.
- Mount Rushmore is made of granite, which erodes about 1 inch every 10,000 years.
- With the presidents’ noses being about 240 inches long, they could last up to 2.4 million years.
- After around 500,000 years, the faces might lose some definition, but their basic shape could endure for up to 7 million years.
- Preservation efforts have been successful, with the monument celebrating its 75th anniversary.
- Mount Rushmore has visitor facilities, including a visitor center, the Lincoln Borglum Museum, and the Presidential Trail.
- The Presidential Trail offers different views of each face along a 0.5-mile walking trail.
- Rushmore’s resident mountain goats are descendants of a herd gifted to Custer State Park by Canada.
- They had escaped, which led to their presence at Mount Rushmore.
- Ben Black Elk, a famous Lakota holy man, greeted visitors at Mount Rushmore in the late 1950s and early 1970s.
- Every night, Mount Rushmore is illuminated for two hours.
- The LED lighting system was installed in 2015 to minimize the negative environmental impact.
- Some believe they can see an elephant’s face or another image by rotating a picture of the mountain.
- Mount Rushmore’s granite erodes about 1 inch every 10,000 years.
- The noses are about 240 inches long, and at this rate, they might last up to 2.4 million years.
- After approximately 500,000 years, the faces may lose some definition but could last up to 7 million years.
- To preserve the monument, measures like installing copper wire to monitor cracks were taken.
- As of the 75th anniversary, all four presidents’ faces remain intact, including eyes, nostrils, lips, and ears.
These facts offer a fascinating insight into the history and details of Mount Rushmore.