Mount Rushmore Facts

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Learn Some Awesome Mount Rushmore Facts

There are many interesting facts behind the faces of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, and some are more well-known than others. Most of us know the when and the why behind the monument: Mount Rushmore construction started in 1927 and finally was completed in 1941. Obviously the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum wanted to create a lasting tribute in grand form of these 4 former presidents, which is as logical a reason as any for why it was constructed. It is believed that Borglum created the monument not just as a tribute to the four men depicted on it, but also to the high ideals they each brought to America and represented within themselves. They were chosen because they "commemorate the founding, growth, preservation, and development to the United States."

But, what is known concerning the "behind the scenes" of the construction of this monumental creation? Project establishment was anything but easy, as you might expect. Once Borglum was hired as a sculptor, permission had to be granted. Senator Peter Norbeck and Congressman William Williamson were instrumental in getting the carving legislation passed. Two bills were submitted to Congress and the State Legislature by Williamson. Easily passed was the bill requesting permission to use federal land for the monument. The bill sent to the State of South Dakota was an uphill battle. It was defeated twice and nearly a third time, when finally, on March 5, 1925 it was signed by Governor Gunderson and passed. Established later that summer was the Mount Haney Memorial Association.

The project hit a slump when President Hoover took office. Although he did quickly appoint the final two members to the organized Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission(created by President Coolidge to authorize federal funding for the project), Hoover never met with the commission. Borlgum grew frustrated at the delay, and attempted to get in to see the president, however, after a heated dispute with the president's secretary, his appointment was cancelled. Eventually, Borglum did succeed in meeting with Hoover, and convinced him of the importance of the project, and voila, the first commission meeting was set up! Soon, the commission was organized, the funding completed so the work could began.

In 1933, a major change came that infuriated Borglum. President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Executive Order 6166, placing Mount Rushmore under jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Borglum detested the thought of being under the "watchful eye of the government.

In 1939, the project was threatened because of potential loss of funding, because of "creative differences." Borglum's son was in charge of Project Lincoln for the final two years. In 1941, Borglum died, just short of seeing the final dedication in March of 1941, which is ironic, to say the least.

Here are a few more Mount Rushmore facts for inquiring minds

  • Borglum was 60 years old when he began working on the monument.
  • Rushmore's granite faces tower over 5,500 feet above sea level.
  • The carvings are scaled to men who would stand 465 feet tall.
  • Each President's head is as tall as a six-story building.
  • Over 800 million pounds of stone was removed from Mount Rushmore during the construction.
  • Imagine climbing 506 steps to reach the top of Mount Rushmore-this was how many steps the workers had to climb each day!
  • The president's noses are 20 feet long, their mouths 18 feet wide, and their eyes are 11 feet across!
  • Did you know that Gutzon Borglum was a student of renowned French artist Auguste Rodin, and was one of America's most successful artists before even considering Mount Rushmore? His Mares of Diomedes was the first American work purchased by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. He also has 5 statues on display at the U.S. Capitol Building.
  • Here is an astonishing fact: no deaths occurred during the whole period of carving, just a few minor injuries.
  • Can you imagine that with all the dynamite used?

Learn more about Mount Rushmore with a Mount Rushmore Tour. For the best vacation experience, be sure to check out other things to do in the area! Choose the best hotel for your family. 

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