National Parks Tour: Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Monday, September 6, 2021 (continued)

Mount Rushmore is about 17 miles from Crazy Horse and took about 30 minutes to get there. We walked up the “Avenue of Flags” to the viewing point of the monument. Very impressive. It is carved so intricately that you actually believe that there is a monocle on Theodore Roosevelt. Engineering marvel. But you can tell it is much smaller than the Crazy Horse Memorial. Al said that this memorial will fit on the forehead of Crazy Horse. I don’t think he was kidding.

We walked through the Visitor Center and read the information about the creation of each of the monument busts. It was nice and cool in the building.


We walked back down the Avenue to have some lunch. Chuck enjoyed the bison chili. I had the plain chicken sandwich. The place started to get very crowded.

We walked back up the Avenue, went to a different viewing area for a different perspective, and then took the nature trail loop back to the bus parking area. Some of our fellow passengers took the long loop trail all around the park. It was hot and they seemed pretty worn out by the time they got back. I am glad we did the short loop.

We all got back to the bus by 2:00. We are heading back to the Lodge.

Next Up – Buffalo Safari & Chuckwagon Cookout

Travel Trivia

Mount Rushmore National Monument

Mount Rushmore was named after New York attorney Charles E. Rushmore, who had visited the area in 1885. As the story goes, Rushmore was visiting South Dakota for business when he spied the large, impressive, granite peak. When he asked his guide the name of the peak, Rushmore was told, “Hell, it never had a name, but from now on we’ll call the damn thing Rushmore.” Rushmore later donated $5,000 to help get the Mount Rushmore project started, becoming one of the first to donate private money to the project.

When carving first started at Mount Rushmore on October 4, 1927, sculptor Gutzon Borglum had his workers try jackhammers. They were too slow and ineffective. They decided to try dynamite. A worker trained in explosives, would place sticks of dynamite and sand into each of the holes, working from the bottom to the top. Ultimately, 90% of the granite removed from Mount Rushmore was by dynamite. Not a single worker died while carving Mount Rushmore.

Borglum intended the sculptures of the four presidents to be from the waist up. It was Congress that ultimately decided, based on lack of funding, that the carving on Mount Rushmore would end once the four faces were complete. The head of George Washington is 60 feet tall with a nose that is 21 feet tall. Theodore Roosevelt’s head is slightly smaller, Abraham Lincoln’s is slightly taller. Each of the eyes on Mount Rushmore are about 11 feet wide. Each mouth is about 18 feet wide.

The four faces represent four stages of America’s history: Washington, the birth of the nation; Jefferson, the growth; Lincoln, the preservation; and Roosevelt, the development.

Borglum was an interesting character. In 1925, on his previous project at Stone Mountain in Georgia, disagreements about who was in charge of the project (Borglum or the head of the monument association) ended with Borglum being run out of the state by the sheriff and a posse. Though Mount Rushmore was his greatest creation, he did not live to see it finished.  Borglum died from a blood clot in Chicago on March 6, 1941, just seven months before it was completed. It was his son, Lincoln Borglum, who finished the project.

The last living worker on Mount Rushmore, Nick Clifford, died at the age of 98 on November 26, 2019. At 17, he was the youngest man hired when he went to work as a winch operator that took men up and down the mountain so they could drill holes for the dynamite.

*Trivia provided by Wikipedia, Mount Rushmore documents, and Globus

Author: mmmtravelmemories

A retired college administrator who loves to travel. I write to remember the experiences and, I hope, to inspire others to make their own travel memories.

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