|Mount Rushmore National Memorial|
IUCN Category V (Protected Landscape/Seascape)
(left to right) Sculptures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln represent the first 150 years of the history of the United States.
|Location||Pennington County, South Dakota, USA|
|Nearest city||Keystone, South DakotaNearest city: Keystone, South Dakota|
|Area||1,278.45 acres (5.17 km2)|
|Established||March 3, 1925 Established: March 3, 1925|
|Visitors||2,757,971 (in 2006)|
|Governing body||National Park Service|
Mount Rushmore National Memorial, near Keystone, South Dakota, is a monumental granite sculpture by Gutzon Borglum (1867–1941), located within the United States Presidential Memorial that represents the first 150 years of the history of the United States of America with 60-foot (18 m) sculptures of the heads of former United States presidents (left to right): George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). The entire memorial covers 1,278.45 acres (5.17 km2) and is 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level. It is managed by the National Park Service, a bureau of the United States Department of the Interior. The memorial attracts approximately two million people annually.
Originally known to the Lakota Sioux as Six Grandfathers, the mountain was renamed after Charles E. Rushmore, a prominent New York lawyer, during an expedition in 1885. At first, the project of carving Rushmore was undertaken to increase tourism in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. After long negotiations involving a Congressional delegation and President Calvin Coolidge, the project received Congressional approval. The carving started in 1927, and ended in 1941 with some injuries and no fatalities.
As Six Grandfathers, the mountain was part of the route that Lakota leader Black Elk took in a spiritual journey that culminated at Harney Peak. Following a series of military campaigns from 1876 to 1877, the United States asserted control over the area, a claim that is still disputed on the basis of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie (see Controversy below). Among white American settlers, the peak was known variously as Cougar Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Slaughterhouse Mountain, and Keystone Cliffs. It was named Mount Rushmore during a prospecting expedition by Rushmore, David Swanzey (whose wife Carrie was the sister of author Laura Ingalls Wilder), and Bill Challis.
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 that the carving could be accomplished. Borglum had been involved in sculpting the Confederate Memorial Carving, a massive bas-relief memorial to Confederate leaders on Stone Mountain in Georgia, but was in disagreement with the officials there. The original plan was to perform 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. Borglum said upon seeing Mount Rushmore, "America will march along that skyline." Congress authorized the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission on March 3, 1925. President Coolidge insisted that along with Washington, two Republicans and one Democrat be portrayed.
Between October 4, 1927, and October 31, 1941, Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers sculpted the colossal 60-foot (18 m) carvings of U.S. 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. 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.
In 1933, the National Park Service took Mount Rushmore under its jurisdiction. Engineer Julian Spotts helped with the project by improving its infrastructure. For example, he had the tram upgraded so that 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 that federal funds be used to finish only those heads that had already been started at that time. In 1939, the face of Theodore Roosevelt was dedicated.
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, 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 Alaska to Texas to the Panama Canal Zone.
On October 15, 1966, Mount Rushmore was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. An essay from Nebraska student William Andrew Burkett, selected as the winner for the college-age group in 1934, was placed on the Entablature on a bronze plate in 1973. In 1991, President George H. W. Bush officially dedicated Mount Rushmore.
In a canyon behind the carved faces is a chamber, cut only 70 feet (21 m) into the rock, containing a vault with sixteen porcelain enamel panels. The panels include the text of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, biographies of the four presidents and Borglum, and the history of the U.S. The chamber was created as the entranceway to a planned "Hall of Records"; the vault was installed in 1998.
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 annually requires mountain climbers to monitor and seal cracks. The memorial is not cleaned to remove lichens. It has been cleaned only once. On July 8, 2005, Kärcher GmbH, a German manufacturer of cleaning machines, conducted a free cleanup operation; the washing used pressurized water at over 200 °F (93 °C).
Mount Rushmore is controversial among Native Americans because the United States seized the area from the Lakota tribe after the Great Sioux War of 1876-77. The Treaty of Fort Laramie from 1868 had previously granted the Black Hills to the Lakota in perpetuity. Members of the American Indian Movement led an occupation of the monument in 1971, naming it "Mount Crazy Horse". Among the participants were young activists, grandparents, children and Lakota holy man John Fire Lame Deer, who planted a prayer staff atop the mountain. Lame Deer said the staff formed a symbolic shroud over the presidents' faces "which shall remain dirty until the treaties concerning the Black Hills are fulfilled."
In 2004, the first Native American superintendent of the park was appointed. Gerard Baker has stated that he will open up more "avenues of interpretation", and that the four presidents are "only one avenue and only one focus."
The Crazy Horse Memorial is being constructed elsewhere in the Black Hills to commemorate a famous Native American leader and as a response to Mount Rushmore. It is intended to be larger than Mount Rushmore and has the support of Lakota chiefs; the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation has rejected offers of federal funds. However, this memorial is likewise the subject of controversy, even within the Native American community.
The Monument also provokes controversy because some allege that underlying it is the theme of racial superiority legitimized by the idea of Manifest Destiny. The mountains were carved with Borglum's choice of four presidents active during the time of the acquisition of Indian land. Gutzon Borglum himself excites controversy because he was an active member of the Ku Klux Klan.
In 2009, author Ivan Eland released Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty, a book that advocates a reappraisal of the greatness of three of the four presidents on the monument.
The flora and fauna of Mount Rushmore are similar to those of the rest of the Black Hills region of South Dakota. Birds including the turkey vulture, bald eagle, hawk, and meadowlark fly around Mount Rushmore, occasionally making nesting spots in the ledges of the mountain. Smaller birds, including songbirds, nuthatches, and woodpeckers, inhabit the surrounding pine forests. Terrestrial mammals include the mouse, chipmunk, squirrel, skunk, porcupine, raccoon, beaver, badger, coyote, bighorn sheep, and bobcat. In addition, several species of frogs and snakes inhabit the region. The two brooks in the memorial, the Grizzly Bear and Starling Basin brooks, support fish such as the longnose dace and the brook trout. Some endemic animals are not indigenous to the area; the mountain goats are descended from goats which were a gift from Canada to Custer State Park in 1924 but later escaped.
At lower elevations, coniferous trees, mainly the Ponderosa pine, surround most of the monument, providing shade from the sun. Other trees include the bur oak, the Black Hills spruce, and the cottonwood. Nine species of shrubs live near Mount Rushmore. There is also a wide variety of wildflowers, including especially the snapdragon, sunflower, and violet. Towards higher elevations, plant life becomes sparser. However, only approximately five percent of the plant species found in the Black Hills are indigenous to the region.
Though the area receives about 18 inches (460 mm) of precipitation on average per year, alone it is not enough to support the abundant animal and plant life. Trees and other plants help to control surface runoff. Dikes, seeps, and springs help to dam up water that is flowing downhill, providing watering spots for animals. In addition, stones like sandstone and limestone help to hold groundwater, creating aquifers.
Forest fires occur in the Ponderosa forests surrounding Mount Rushmore around every 27 years. This was determined from fire scars in tree core samples. These help to clean forest debris located on the ground. Large conflagrations are rare, but have occurred in the past.
Mount Rushmore is largely composed of granite. The memorial is carved on the northwest margin of the Harney Peak granite batholith in the Black Hills of South Dakota, so the geologic formations of the heart of the Black Hills region are also evident at Mount Rushmore. The batholith magma intruded into the pre-existing mica schist rocks during the Precambrian period about 1.6 billion years ago. However, the uneven cooling of the molten rock caused the formation of both fine and coarse-grained minerals, including quartz, feldspar, muscovite, and biotite. Fractures in the granite were sealed by pegmatite dikes. The light-colored streaks in the presidents' foreheads are due to these dikes.
The Black Hills granites were exposed to erosion during the late Precambrian, but were buried by sandstones and other sediments during the Cambrian Period. The area remained buried throughout the Paleozoic Era, but was exposed again to erosion during the tectonic uplift about 70 million years ago. The Black Hills area was uplifted as an elongated geologic dome which towered some 20,000 feet (6,100 m) above sea level, but erosion wore the area down to only 4,000 feet (1,200 m). The subsequent natural erosion of this mountain range allowed the carvings by stripping the granite of the overlying sediments and the softer adjacent schists. The contact between the granite and darker schist is viewable just below the sculpture of Washington.
Borglum selected Mount Rushmore as the site for several reasons. The rock of the mountain is composed of smooth, fine-grained granite. The durable granite erodes only 1 inch (25 mm) every 10,000 years, indicating that it was sturdy enough to support sculpting. In addition, it was the tallest mountain in the region, looming to a height of 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level. Because the mountain faces the southeast, the workers also had the advantage of sunlight for most of the day.
Tourism is South Dakota's second-largest industry, and Mount Rushmore is its top tourist attraction. In 2004, over two million visitors traveled to the memorial. The site is also home to the final concerts of Rushmore Music Camp and attracts many visitors over the week of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial  is a United States National Memorial located in the American state of South Dakota, in the vicinity (35 miles) of Rapid City. Featuring the monumental faces of four former Presidents of the United States of America, blasted and carved from the white rock, Mount Rushmore represents an iconic destination for many travellers to the area.
Mount Rushmore depicts the faces of four former Presidents (from left to right):
The four, 60-foot granite faces of Mount Rushmore National Memorial symbolize freedom, democracy and the American dream. This mountain carving of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln draws more than three million visitors each year.
The first blast on the mountain occurred in 1927. Under the direction of sculptor Gutzon Borglum, 400 workers labored through hot summers and cold winters to create the sculpture, nearly 500 feet up the side of the mountain. More than 90 percent of the mountain was carved using dynamite. The fine details of the faces were achieved with a jackhammer. Operators hung from the top of the mountain in bosun chairs held by steel cables. Despite the dangerous work, during the 14 years of construction, not a single person died. The memorial was officially declared complete on October 31, 1941.
However, Gutzon Borglum’s vision was not totally completed – original plans included head-to-waist depictions of the presidents. When Borglum died suddenly in July 1941, his son, Lincoln, tried to continue his father’s work, but funding ran out as America entered World War II. Visitors wanting to see a model of Borglum’s original dream can view it at the Sculptor’s Studio located at the Memorial.
Another part of Borglum’s grand vision was for a Hall of Records to be carved into the canyon behind the faces. Borglum envisioned a majestic room that held important documents like the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Borglum started blasting the hall, but never finished it.
On August 9, 1998, Borglum’s Hall of Records was somewhat completed when a repository was placed in the floor of the hall entry. Inside a titanium vault are sixteen porcelain enamel panels inscribed with the story of Mount Rushmore, the reasons for selecting the four presidents and a short history of the United States. The Hall of Records is not accessible to visitors, but is left as a record for people thousands of years from now.
Borglum chose these four men to carve into the mountainside because they represented the first 150 years of American history. George Washington was America’s first president and a founding father of the nation. Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence – the basis for the democracy. Jefferson was also responsible for the expansion of the union with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Abraham Lincoln was responsible for the preservation of the union by holding the country together during the Civil War, the most trying time in our nation’s history. Theodore Roosevelt was chosen because he led the country during the explosive economic growth of the early 20th Century. He was also responsible for setting aside land for national parks so all generations could enjoy the beauty of the country.
Mount Rushmore is named after Charles E. Rushmore, a New York City attorney who was sent out to this area in 1884 to check legal titles on properties. On his way back to Pine Camp he asked Bill Challis the name of the mountain. Bill replied, "Never had a name but from now on we'll call it Rushmore." Mount Rushmore was a favorite place that many presidents visisted with their families.
The four granite faces that give the mountain its greatest claim to fame were carved over a 14-year period (October 4, 1927 - October 31, 1941) by over 400 workers under the supervision of Gutzon Borglum, an American sculptor. Each face is about 60 feet high; if the bodies were to be included, each figure would be about 460 feet high.
Mount Rushmore is a project of colossal proportion, colossal ambition and colossal achievement. It involved the efforts of nearly 400 men and women. The duties involved varied greatly from the call boy to drillers to the blacksmith to the housekeepers. Some of the workers at Mount Rushmore were interviewed, and were asked, "What is it you do here?" One of the workers responded and said, "I run a jackhammer." Another worker responded to the same question, " I earn $8.00 a day." However, a third worker said, "I am helping to create a Memorial." The third worker had an idea of what they were trying to accomplish.
The workers had to endure conditions that varied from blazing hot to bitter cold and windy. Each day they climbed 700 stairs to the top of the mountain to punch-in on the time clock. Then 3/8 inch thick steel cables lowered them over the front of the 500 foot face of the mountain in a "bosun chair". Some of the workers admitted being uneasy with heights, but during the Depression, any job was a good job.
The work was exciting, but dangerous, 90% of the mountain was carved using dynamite . The powdermen would cut and set charges of dynamite of specific sizes to remove precise amounts of rock.
Before the dynamite charges could be set off, the workers would have to be cleared from the mountain. Workers in the winch house on top of the mountain would hand crank the winches to raise and lower the drillers. If they went too fast, the drillers in their bosun chairs would be dragged up on their faces. To keep this from happening, young men and boys were hired as call boys. Call boys sat at the edge of the mountain and shout messages back and forth assuring safety. During the 14 years of construction not one fatality occurred.
Dynamite was used until only three to six inches of rock was left to remove to get to the final carving surface. At this point, the drillers and assistant carvers would drill holes into the granite very close together. This was called honeycombing. The closely drilled holes would weaken the granite so it could be removed often by hand.
After the honeycombing, the workers smoothed the surface of the faces with a hand facer or bumper tool. In this final step, the bumper tool would even up the granite, creating a surface as smooth as a sidewalk.
From 1927 to 1941 the 400 workers at Mount Rushmore were doing more than operating a jackhammer, they were doing more than earning $8.00 a day, they were building a Memorial that people from across the nation and around the world would come to see for generations.
Travelers on I-90 should exit at Rapid City and follow Highway 16 southwest to Keystone and then Highway 244 to Mount Rushmore. Travelers coming from the south should follow Highway 385 north to Highway 244, which is the road leading to the National Memorial.
Entrance to the Memorial is free; however, there is a fee to park. This fee isn't covered by the National Park Pass, Golden Age or Golden Access Passport cards because the parking facilites are privately owned. The structure was built in order to accommodate visitation, and because federal or donated funds weren't available, it was contracted out, and the non-profit organization became Presidential Parking Inc.
No lodging is available at the memorial. Keystone is nearby, with several lodging opportunities. There are many more hotels and motels in Rapid City, if you'd prefer to avoid the kitschy, tacky atmosphere of Keystone and don't mind a slightly longer drive.
There are no campgrounds at the memorial. Several campgrounds are in nearby Black Hills National Forest and Custer State Park, as well as in communities in the Black Hills. A nearby KOA  is within 5 miles of the monument.
Backcountry camping is not permitted at the memorial.
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Mount Rushmore is a famous mountain and memorial located near Keystone, South Dakota of the United States. It has the heads of four of America's presidents carved on it: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The Mount Rushmore Memorial is a part of the United States Presidential Memorial, which covers 1,278.45 acres (5.17 km2) and is 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level.
Before the memorial was carved, the native Lakota Indian Tribes called the mountain "Six Grandfathers". Later, the mountain was named after Charles E. Rushmore, a well-known lawyer, after an expedition in 1885.[needs proof] The memorial was carved to help increase tourism in the Black Hills, where the mountain was located. Doane Robinson first formed the idea in 1923. Robinson convinced many influential people in the United States government to build the memorial. Congress soon allowed construction to begin.
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