11 Important Facts About Mount Rushmore

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11 Important Facts About Mount Rushmore

One of the most visited landmarks in the United States is Mount Rushmore. With the heads of four Presidents placed on a mountain in the Badlands, the goal of this monument has been met. Doane Robinson wanted to create a monument that would draw people from all over the country to come for a visit. It cost less than $1 million to create, 14 years to complete, and most remarkably, no one died while building this monument.

1. It’s the Second Draft

The original models of Mount Rushmore had Thomas Jefferson on the left of George Washington if you were facing the monument. After 18 months of carving Jefferson there, however, it was realized that the original concepts weren’t going to work. There was also the hidden message in the arrangement that Jefferson was being considered superior to Washington, which didn’t go over so well in many circles. The partially finished face of Jefferson was blasted off and the design was altered to what can be seen today.

2. A Hidden Message

If you can convince a Park Ranger to let you up behind the sculpture, you’ll find that there is a cave that was partially carved out of the mountain. This was to be called the “Hall of Records” and was to hold the story of Mount Rushmore. It was never finished since the project was running low on money, so now everyone can see the story of Mount Rushmore by sitting through a video presentation with a bunch of screaming kids running around.

3. A Whimsical Name

A man named Charles Rushmore, an attorney from New York, came out to the Black Hills to check on property deeds. Americans were trying to move into the Black Hills at the time because expansionism was on in full force and it was believed that the Native tribes had abandoned the area. When the mountain was being discussed, Rushmore asked if it had a name. It was decided to name the site Mount Rushmore right then and it’s been named as such every since.

4. The Fifth Face of Mount Rushmore

What many do not initially realize about this monument is that it was also a sacred Native site called the Six Grandfathers. Many of the local cultures to this day look at the carvings on the mountain as a blasphemous act caused by greedy Americans. One man, however, named Ben Black Elk, attempted to use the new monument as a way to help people embrace the local tribal culture. He was often called the fifth face of Mount Rushmore, serving as an on-site ambassador for the Lakota until he passed away in 1973. He held the position for over 27 years.

5. One Bath

Since its christening in 1941, Mount Rushmore has only been cleaned once. This occurred in 2005 when lichen and dirty were accumulating to such an extent that the visibility of the faces was becoming compromised. This one bath took workers about 3 weeks in total to accomplish. The reason why cleaning isn’t regularly needed for this monument is because the natural erosion rates in the area are about 1 inch every 10,000 years.

6. A Lot of Money In Limbo

The ownership rights of Mount Rushmore have long been disputed. To resolved that dispute, in 1980 the Sioux Nation won a big court case against the federal government where they were awarded a $15.5 million settlement for the land, plus an annual 5% interest rate for the debt that wasn’t paid for over 100 years. The total figure added up to over $100 million years. The Native tribes rejected the offer of payment, requesting that the title deeds to the land be returned. That didn’t happen. The case still isn’t resolved, although some tribes have laid a claim to the nine figure offer.

7. A Patriotic Two Day Holiday

One of the top reasons to visit Mount Rushmore today is to celebrate the American Independence Day holiday. This happens on July 4th everywhere except for Mount Rushmore. If you want to celebrate with fireworks above the monument at night, then you’re going to need to plan a visit for July 3rd instead. The monument holds their celebration a day early every year so they don’t interfere with the plans of the surrounding communities in the area.

8. It’s Not Hand-Carved

Although the monument looks like a giant hand carved the four faces out of the mountain, it was actually created through carefully planted explosives. Dynamite actually carved out about 90% of the monument. Each face was started separately and commissioned independently throughout the 14 years it took to create the monument. It could have been finished in 6 years instead, but funding delays, commissions on creative differences, and a change from independent oversight to government oversight all contributed to the problem.

9. A Confederate Sculpture?

Gutzon Borglum might be remembered for his extensive work on Mount Rushmore, but it isn’t even his largest project. That honor goes to Stone Mountain, which can be found in Georgia. The image that has been carved into the rock is the world’s largest bas-relief and it depicts three famous Confederate figures: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis. It was commissioned by the Daughters of the Confederacy, but just like with Mount Rushmore, Borglum didn’t finish the project. For added kicks and giggles, the reformation of the KKK also occurred at the summit of Stone Mountain in 1915 – 10 years before the sculpture was started.

10. Easily Recognized

With more than 3 million visitors every year, Mount Rushmore is one of the most visited locations in the United States. It is also one of the most recognized locations in the world today. More movies have either been filmed at the site or mention the location than the Sphinx or the Eiffel Tower combined. The local economy has thrived by building up water parks, casinos, and a number of hotels that are all within 10 miles of the monument.

11. Some Big Eyes

The scale of the faces on Mount Rushmore is quite impressive. The eyes alone on each face are 11 feet in width. This means two people can stand together and still not be tall enough to close Washington’s eyelids if it were possible. The height of each President is 60 feet when measured at the chin, which is about the same size as a 6 story building.

Love it or hate it, Mount Rushmore is one of the most popular American landmarks year after year. With an avenue that features all of the flags of each state and territory, it is designed to be an all-inclusive monument and makes for a fun visit during the warm summer months.