After our first foggy visit to Mount Rushmore, we returned with our friends Forrest and Mary while they were in town. As you approach the memorial from Highway 244 out of Hill City, you enter past a turnout that displays a profile of George Washington. When we pulled in to the turnout, not a single person was looking up at George, and we quickly discovered what all the excitement was about. There were Rocky Mountain Goats on both sides of the roadway, We had these two right in the parking lot.
And a more adventurous pair across the roadway into the hillside. These goats were introduced to the Black Hills in the 1920’s, and have adapted quite well to the area.
When Gutzon Borglum started carving Mount Rushmore, he originally planned to put Thomas Jefferson on the right side of Washington. After the workers started blocking out his face, it was discovered there was not enough good quality rock for carving, so they blew up what they hard started. As a result, it left a good profile of Washington.
As you enter the memorial, you go through the Avenue of Flags, which has 56 flags representing all of the states and territories of the US. It also makes for a popular photo opportunity.
The memorial has a Grand View Terrace, for excellent views of Mount Rushmore. Beneath the terrace if the Lincoln Borglum (named after the sculptors son), which contains a museum, theatre and bookstore. The museum has a photograph of what Mount Rushmore looked like prior to the construction.
After Gutzon Borglum died in 1941, his son Lincoln spent seven months working on the monument, but then Congress declared the monument complete on October 31, 1941 This is how the memorial looks today. The heads are 40 feet tall. (since we are working at Crazy Horse Memorial, I do have to note that all four heads of Mount Rushmore will fit on the side of Crazy Horse’s head!)
There is a walking path that takes you a little closer to the memorial, and down to the sculptors studio. In the studio, there is a 1/12th scale model of what Borglum had planned for Mount Rushmore. His plans were never completed. All of the Presidents were to be carved down to the waist.
The small museum near the visitors center has many photographs and articles that go into great detail on the history of the memorial. It also talks about the pointer device that was used to project the dimensions from the 1/12th scale model on to the mountain for carving. This photograph demonstrates an example of the pointer (Math is important!)
We took the walking path around the memorial, and were able to get a nice photograph of the grand view terrace, and the amphitheater. They have a nightly lighting ceremony, which we plan on attending one of these nights. (admission to the memorial is free, but there is an $11.00 annual parking pass).
Mount Rushmore is a “must see” item if you are in the area.
Quote of the day: “Well, those figures were there for forty million years. All I had to do was dynamite 400,000 tons of granite to bring them into view.” – Gutzon Borglum