Mount Rushmore National Memorial has become an iconic symbol of the United States, and is visited by nearly three million people each year. They come to marvel at the majestic beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota and learn about the birth, growth, development and preservation of the country. From the history of the first inhabitants to the diversity of America today, Mount Rushmore brings visitors face to face with the rich heritage we all share.
Mount Rushmore features 60-foot tall sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents: George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), which are carved into the face of Mount Rushmore, a granite batholith formation in the Black Hills in Keystone, South Dakota.
South Dakota historian Doane Robinson is credited with conceiving the idea of carving the likenesses of famous people into the Black Hills region of South Dakota in order to promote tourism in the region, ultimately settling on the Mount Rushmore location, which also had the advantage of facing southeast for maximum sun exposure. Robinson wanted it to feature western heroes like Lewis and Clark, Red Cloud, and Buffalo Bill Cody, but Danish-American sculptor Gutzon Borglum thought the sculpture should have a more national focus and chose the four presidents whose likenesses would be carved into the mountain. After securing federal funding through the enthusiastic sponsorship of "Mount Rushmore's great political patron", U.S. Senator Peter Norbeck, construction on the memorial began in 1927, and the presidents' faces were completed between 1934 and 1939.
The figure of Thomas Jefferson was originally started on Washington's right side. After 18 months of carving the figure of Jefferson had to be blasted off the mountain and restarted on Washington's left side. Over 90% of Mount Rushmore was carved using dynamite, removing some 450,000 tons of rock from the mountain. Although the initial concept called for each president to be depicted from head to waist, lack of funding forced construction to end in late October 1941. Approximately 400 different people worked at Mount Rushmore during the carving process from October 1927 to October 1941, and although this work was dangerous, no lives were lost.
Mount Rushmore and has appeared in works of fiction, and has been discussed or depicted in other popular works. It was also famously used as the location of the climactic chase scene in Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 movie North by Northwest starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint.
If you haven't had the chance to see Mount Rushmore, it's worth the trip! And, you are in close proximity to Wind Cave National Park and Badlands National Park -- two very different parks -- but both worth visiting!
There are also posters for my two other South Dakota favorites: