Mount Rushmore National Memorial, near Keystone, South Dakota, is a monumental granite sculpture by Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941), located within the United States Presidential Memorial that represents the first 150 years of the history of the United States of America with 60-foot (18 m) sculptures of the heads of former United States presidents (left to right): George Washington (1732-1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), and Abraham Lincoln (18091865). It is managed by the National Park Service, a bureau of the United States Department of the Interior. The memorial attracts approximately two million people annually.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial History: The carving of Mount Rushmore involved the use of dynamite, followed by the process of “honeycombing”. About two million tons of rock were blasted off the mountainside.Originally known to the Lakota Sioux as Six Grandfathers, the mountain was renamed after Charles E. Rushmore, a prominent New York lawyer, during an expedition in 1885. At first, the project of carving Rushmore was undertaken to increase tourism in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. After long negotiations involving a Congressional delegation and President Calvin Coolidge, the project received Congressional approval. The carving started in 1927, and ended in 1941 with some injuries and no fatalities.
As Six Grandfathers, the mountain was part of the route that Lakota leader Black Elk took in a spiritual journey that culminated at Harney Peak. Following a series of military campaigns from 1876 to 1877, the United States asserted control over the area, a claim that is still disputed based on the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie (see Controversy below). Among white American settlers, the peak was known variously as Cougar Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Slaughterhouse Mountain, and Keystone Cliffs. It was named Mount Rushmore during a prospecting expedition by Rushmore, David Swanzey (whose wife Carrie was the sister of author Laura Ingalls Wilder), and Bill Challis.
Historian Doane Robinson conceived the idea for Mount Rushmore in 1923 to promote tourism in South Dakota. In 1924, Robinson persuaded sculptor Gutzon Borglum to travel to the Black Hills region to ensure that the carving could be accomplished. Borglum had been involved in sculpting the Confederate Memorial Carving, a massive bas-relief memorial to Confederate leaders on Stone Mountain in Georgia, but was in disagreement with the officials there.
The original plan was to perform the carvings in granite pillars known as the Needles. However, Borglum realized that the eroded Needles were too thin to support sculpting. He chose Mount Rushmore, a grander location, partly because it faced southeast and enjoyed maximum exposure to the sun. Borglum said upon seeing Mount Rushmore, “America will march along that skyline.” Congress authorized the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission on March 3, 1925. President Coolidge insisted that along with Washington, two Republicans and one Democrat be portrayed.
Between October 4, 1927, and October 31, 1941, Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers sculpted the colossal 60-foot (18 m) carvings of U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln to represent the first 150 years of American history. These presidents were selected by Borglum because of their role in preserving the Republic and expanding its territory. The image of Thomas Jefferson was originally intended to appear in the area at Washington’s right, but after the work there was begun, the rock was found to be unsuitable, so the work on the Jefferson figure was dynamited, and a new figure was sculpted to Washington’s left.
In 1933, the National Park Service took Mount Rushmore under its jurisdiction. Engineer Julian Spotts helped with the project by improving its infrastructure. For example, he had the tram upgraded so that it could reach the top of Mount Rushmore for the ease of workers. By July 4, 1934, Washington’s face had been completed and was dedicated. The face of Thomas Jefferson was dedicated in 1936, and the face of Abraham Lincoln was dedicated on September 17, 1937. In 1937, a bill was introduced in Congress to add the head of civil-rights leader Susan B. Anthony, but a rider was passed on an appropriations bill requiring that federal funds be used to finish only those heads that had already been started at that time. In 1939, the face of Theodore Roosevelt was dedicated.
A model at the site depicting Mount Rushmore’s intended final design. Insufficient funding forced the carving to end in October 1941.The Sculptor’s Studio,a display of unique plaster models and tools related to the sculpting,was built in 1939 under the direction of Borglum. Borglum died from an embolism in March 1941. His son, Lincoln Borglum, continued the project. Originally, it was planned that the figures would be carved from head to waist, but insufficient funding forced the carving to end. Borglum had also planned a massive panel in the shape of the Louisiana Purchase commemorating in eight-foot-tall gilded letters the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Louisiana Purchase, and seven other territorial acquisitions from Alaska to Texas to the Panama Canal Zone.
The entire project cost US$989,992.32. Notably for a project of such size, no workers died during the carving.
On October 15, 1966, Mount Rushmore was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. An essay from Nebraska student William Andrew Burkett, selected as the winner for the college-age group in 1934, was placed on the Entablature on a bronze plate in 1973. In 1991, President George H. W. Bush officially dedicated Mount Rushmore.
In a canyon behind the carved faces is a chamber, cut only 70 feet (21 m) into the rock, containing a vault with sixteen porcelain enamel panels. The panels include the text of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, biographies of the four presidents and Borglum, and the history of the U.S. The chamber was created as the entranceway to a planned “Hall of Records”; the vault was installed in 1998.
Ten years of redevelopment work culminated with the completion of extensive visitor facilities and sidewalks in 1998, such as a Visitor Center, Museum, and the Presidential Trail. Maintenance of the memorial annually requires mountain climbers to monitor and seal cracks. The memorial is not cleaned to remove lichens. It has been cleaned only once. On July 8, 2005, KÃƒÂ¤rcher GmbH, a German manufacturer of cleaning machines, conducted a free cleanup operation; the washing used pressurized water at over 200 °F .
Rushmore is controversial among Native Americans because the United States seized the area from the Lakota tribe after the Black Hills War in 187677. The Treaty of Fort Laramie from 1868 had previously granted the Black Hills to the Lakota in perpetuity. The Lakota consider the hills sacred, although historians believe the Lakota also gained control of the hills by force, displacing the Cheyenne in 1776. Members of the American Indian Movement led an occupation of the monument in 1971, naming it “Mount Crazy Horse”. Among the participants were young activists, grandparents, children and Lakota holy man John Fire Lame Deer, who planted a prayer staff atop the mountain. Lame Deer said the staff formed a symbolic shroud over the presidents’ faces “which shall remain dirty until the treaties concerning the Black Hills are fulfilled.”
In 2004, the first Native American superintendent of the park was appointed. Gerard Baker has stated that he will open up more “avenues of interpretation”, and that the four presidents are “only one avenue and only one focus.”
The Crazy Horse Memorial is being constructed elsewhere in the Black Hills to commemorate a famous Native American leader and as a response to Mount Rushmore. It is intended to be larger than Mount Rushmore and has the support of Lakota chiefs; the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation has rejected offers of federal funds. However, this memorial is likewise the subject of controversy, even within the Native American community.