Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore is located in South Dakota’s Black Hill National Forest which is to the north of Custer State Park. It was named after a lawyer called Charles Rushmore who discovered it as he was traveling in the Black Hills inspecting presence of minerals. When he asked a native man of the area what they called the mountain he said it had never been named, and from that point onwards it has been referred to as the Rushmore Peak.  

The main history of the physical feature began was back in the 1920’s when Doane Robinson a historian from Dakota  pictured creating an attractive site big enough that would attract people from the various parts of the world to that spot. He initially envisioned having sculptures of Wild West heroes carved in the granite of the Black Hills. Robinson contacted a friend, Borglum who was a sculptor and asked to him to visit Dakota so that they would discuss the project. Although Borglum agreed with Doane he saw that what they were about to do was much bigger and would have been much better if would be timeless and be relevant to the United States history.

As soon as Borglum was on board, Doane and South Dakota’s U.S. Senator Peter Norbeck started to secure national funding for the project.  However this would not be an easy task, so they had to be creative. They began by inviting the then president of the United States; President Calvin Coolidge came to the Custer State Park not on an official schedule but a vacation. In order to ensure the president enjoyed his vacation there and stayed long worker had to stock a stream outside the president’s room with hundreds of trout every night. Luckily for them, their scheme worked and the president decided to extend his stay in the state for two months. This was just the perfect amount of time to be able to convince him on funding the carving of Mount Rushmore. Robinson and his crew’s effort bore fruits as by August 1927 the president officially devoted to the project and the carving of Mount Rushmore began. 

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is among the largest sculptures in the world. It was carved into the face of four of the greatest presidents America has ever had namely:  Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt. The sculpture is amazingly enormous with each face being approximately 60 feet tall. The creation of faces out the mountain was a huge achievement. The project itself required accurate craftsmanship and exquisite talent, and it was absolutely very hard to complete the construction of such a historical landmark. The construction laborers started sculpting Mount Rushmore with egg-shaped masses of rock. The presence of huge boulders was eliminated using dynamites.

A lot of challenges were encountered during the sculpting of the mountain. To start with it was found out that the head of President Jefferson could not be sculpted on the spot that the work had begun, it, therefore, had to be moved.  This was a challenge as it made it seem as though Borglum did not have a well pictured out image of what they wanted. But this did not demoralize any of the workers; instead, they just adjusted the sculpture to where it seemed fit. There was also opposition from some environmentalist who claimed that such a project would be messing up with nature. But their arguments were overruled because they did not seem to stand on any rational grounds.  Another nutshell that the project had to chew was the death of Gutzon Borglum fourteen years after the project had begun.  But its rescue was Lincoln Borglum who took over to finish what his father had started. Unfortunately, he was not able to finish sculpting the Presidents u to their wrist as his father intended because by October 1941 the US government ceased funding the project.

The four presidents chosen for the monument were picked because of the following reasons: During the Revolutionary War, George Washington was the commander who led the Colonial forces to defeat the British. Additional President Washington played a role in presiding the Constitutional Convection which formed America’s Constitution in the year 1787. Thomas Jefferson is celebrated for expanding the United States through the Louisiana Purchase which made the country grow twice as much. Abraham Lincoln is remembered for bringing the United States together when it was almost brought down to ashes by Civil wars. President Roosevelt was chosen for having started the conservation movement to help make the US great.

Today, about three million tourists visit the Mount Rushmore Monument annually to be inspired and admire the works of Gutzon Borglum. Visitors are also able to see what Gutzon’s full vision for the sculptures.  One can also visit the Lincoln Borglum Museum just next to the memorial, which has displays about the history of Mount Rushmore.  In order to maintain the vitality of the sculptures, each year before the winter kicks in the National Park service personnel repel over the side of the faces to scrutinize for any fissures or cracks that might be present. It any crack is found they use a silicone sealant to seal out moisture and aid in avoiding snow and ice from forcing its way into the cracks and damaging the sculpture.

The project employed over four hundred laborers. Their roles varied from blacksmiths, drillers, and masons to climbers. The employees had to bear with conditions that were a bit intolerable such as blazing hot temperatures to cold and windy. Although the work was dangerous it must have been exciting being part of such a timeless monument. In the year 1933 President Roosevelt approved Executive Order 6166, which radically changed the management of the Mount Rushmore project. The project was not put under the authority of the National Park Service, managed by engineer Julian Spotts, whose resolutions were come up with ways of improving the working conditions on the site. These changes were not taken positively by Borglum, he did not like being under the nose of the government while accomplishing his vision.

Borglum was able to acquire full control of the project through an appointed commission, which was mostly of his choosing.  Through the new commission, Borglum had a voice in almost all sectors of the project. It was during this period that he took advantage of his power and started construction of a big warehouse, known as the Hall of Records, located in a valley that was behind the sculpture. According to plans, the warehouse was meant to tell the story of Mount Rushmore in relation to the United States.  However this desire was short lived as Borglum has to stop working on the hall when nations Senate threatened cease funding the whole project if the funds were used for anything else apart from completing the sculpture. As a result of this, the Hall of Records was never built to completion.

A common tree species in the Black Hills around the Mount Rushmore is the ponderosa pine. This type of plant does well on rocky and dry topography. The climax community in the Black Hills is the ponderosa pine forest. As for animals, the Black Hills is a habitat for many creatures. Since it is a landmark where plains come into contact with a mountain it is conducive for diverse animals. Currently, one paying a visit to the site you might see mountain lions, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, bison, elk, coyotes, and bobcats just to mention a few creatures.

Overall, the work of sculpting the four presidents consumed more than six years of carving many laborers using chisels, drills, jackhammers and dynamite to shape to the mountain. The technique deployed involved drilling a lot of large holes together and blasting away much of the rock’s residue with explosives. About 450 million kilograms of residue removed during the process was left to heap at the base of the monument. Approximately one million US dollars of the cost of the project was met by the federal government while the rest of the cost was sort by private donors. When the project kicked off they began with sculpting George’s head which was dedicated in 1930, Thomas’ in 1936, Abraham’s in the following year and lastly Roosevelt’s two years later.

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial hastily raised into entering the list of the America’s greatest iconic images. It is the most known and profoundly visited Nation Park Service site. Over the years infrastructure network has improved making the site easily accessible. This has benefited the communities that reside within the area. It has also led to the development of nearby towns which offer accommodation for visitors to the monument. Without a doubt, the current state of South Dakota is not as it used to be before the project on the Black Hills began.  Job opportunities were availed for the natives of the region during the sculpturing and there are as still jobs available in the hotels built to accommodate tourists. The presence of the monument has improved the economic condition of the state. 

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