I have been looking forward to seeing the Mount Rushmore stone carvings for a long time and had been more than a little worried that the “tear all of our history down” loons who surfaced after the recent Charlottesville brouhaha over neo-Nazis may do their damage before we got to see it, but alas we made it and was fantastic!
Gutzon Borglum, the man who sculpted the masterpiece studied art in Paris and New York and became a well-known portrait sculptor, but it was a South Dakota state historian named Doane Robinson who approached Borglum to carve ‘Old West heroes’ in the granite formations in the Black Hills. Two years later federal & state legislation authorized the memorial.
Gutzon apparently got to select who would be memorialized. He selected President Washington because he commanded the Continental Army in the Revolution and was elected the first U.S. president. Thomas Jefferson was chosen because he was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Theodore Roosevelt because he was the youngest ever to be elected president & he negotiated the construction of the Panama Canel. Finally, Abraham Lincoln because he devoted his presidency to ending the Civil War & restoring the union. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the first step to ending slavery. These were big men!
“Let us place there, carved high, as close to heaven as we can, the words of our leaders, their faces, to show posterity what manner of men they were. Then breathe a prayer that these records will endure until the wind and the rain alone shall wear them away.”
It sounds like Borglum may have been a little worried too. That aside, it’s a magnificent example of artistic skill and patriotism.
- It took 14 years to complete the monument
- There were 400 workers involved
- The cost was $989,992.32
- Dynamite was the main tool
- A jackhammer, the drill
- Harney Peak Granite, the rock
- Democracy, the meaning of Mt. Rushmore
- Each face is 60 feet high
- Each eye is 11 feet wide
- Washington’s nose is 21 feet long
- Washington’s mouth is 18 feet wide
As I looked at the mountain and the wonderfully detailed sculpture, I just could not imagine the skill involved in blasting away tons of rock at a time without taking away too much or wrecking the details of the work already completed. It’s so much more than just the use of a hammer & chisel. If you ever get the chance to go see it in person, I would say do it without hesitation. The entire Black Hills area of South Dakota is beautiful and rich in history.
Aloha, Mikie ~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)
~Psst, tired of politics? Check out Travel in the Categories drop down menu (right side panel) for my blogs posted from interesting locations during my travel adventures.