The Places I’ve Been: Mount Rushmore

This trip took us many places but Mount Rushmore was one of the places I was most excited about.  Some people find Mount Rushmore a bit underwhelming. It’s true, it’s a fairly small monument, in a fairly small park, however the history behind it is fascinating and the surrounding Black Hills are beautiful. Also, if you’re looking for an adventure there are a few hiking trails around the monument.

It all began in 1923, with Doane Robinson. He originally wanted to carve statues of Christopher Columbus and Native American leaders into the large spires or Needles that had formed through erosion. Gutzon Borglum was asked to carve said statues.  He was the one who proposed carving into Mount Rushmore instead. He was also the designer of the monument.  Calvin Coolidge dedicated the monument in 1927. That’s when work began. It took 14 years to complete the carving. Not only did it take a long time, the way they “carved” the stone is very interesting.

The stone at the surface was unsuitable for carving so they used dynamite to blast it away.  Once decent stone was reached they used smaller dynamite blasts to actually start the carving. From there they they employed jack hammers and a few smaller instruments to fine tune the carving. That is what made this so awe-inspiring for me.

The heads are so huge and each head is so expertly crafted it’s difficult to believe that it was done with dynamite.  All the rubble from the blasting of the rock is still sitting beneath the faces with little trees and things growing through it. I don’t know why I think that’s so cool, but it truly is.

Seeing Mount Rushmore was really one of the best stops for me. Getting to see those huge stone faces, with so much detail up close was amazing. It was a great finale to our trip.

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One response to “The Places I’ve Been: Mount Rushmore

  1. Hi there…this is Wanda with the South Dakota Office of Tourism. Thank you for the great post! I agree, Mt. Rushmore is a very awe-inspiring place…I make it up there several times a year, and it always gives me goose bumps. I’d like to suggest a trip to Crazy Horse Memorial if you get back to South Dakota. Crazy Horse is the largest sculpture in progress in the world…the four faces of Mt. Rushmore will fit in Crazy Horse’s head alone! http://www.crazyhorsememorial.org.

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