There is such a place in this world where dappled sunlight passes through the pines to the forest floor. Roads are windy, climbing and descending. Open vistas of rolling hills greet you around every bend. God’s creatures glory in the soft, pine-scented breeze. The hills build to a crescendo, where mountain goats and big horn sheep reign on steep cliffs overlooking the pines. And in the heart of it all, our forefathers brave visage extends over the hills and the people.
How did Mount Rushmore come to be?
It started as an idea by Doane Robinson for colossal carvings in the Black Hills. Gutzon Borglum was chosen for the work, and he chose the stone face that would be used, as well as the figures that would be represented. Borglum himself was a dreamer and believed that the monument must compare with the largest art works worldwide. He had vision and worked hard at the monument, as well as procuring funding. Borglum died before the final completion of the project, but his son saw his vision through its final stages. In the 14 years it took to complete, almost 400 workers were dedicated to the job. They started their day at 7:30 am with a 700 stair climb to the top of the mountain. Swing chairs were used to lower them in to position for blasting and drilling. Dynamite was used to carve 90% of the mountain, and drilling was used for the last 3-6 inches of carving. On October 31, 1941, Mount Rushmore was declared a completed project.
Why these faces?
Borglum chose the four presidents who are represented at Mount Rushmore for their part in the American story. George Washington symbolized the struggle for independence and the birth of the Republic. Thomas Jefferson was chosen for his vision of territorial expansion. He made the Louisiana Purchase, which about doubled the size of the Republic. Abraham Lincoln signifies the permanent union of the States. Theodore Roosevelt (one of Borglum’s personal heroes) symbolized the rights of common man and the 20th century role of the US in world affairs.
The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people. -George Washington
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. -Thomas Jefferson
Visiting Mount Rushmore (The logistics)
The road to Mount Rushmore is an adventure in itself. We took Iron Mountain Road, which is full of twists, switchbacks, corkscrew bridges and tunnels. You can see the carved faces in the distance around some of the bends and even through one of the tunnels.
There is a $11.00 fee to park at Mount Rushmore (America the Beautiful passes get you nothing here). There is no entrance fee, just the parking, so take as few vehicles as possible. As part of your walk toward the monument, you walk past the state flags for each of the United States. They have the usual: gift shop, cafe, and a visitor’s center with great exhibits exploring how the monument was built. They also have a lighting ceremony that takes place around 8:00. There are some trails to walk, but honestly, I think the best views are from the main area.
May I ask a favor of you, reader? Will you take on the responsibility of learning about these noble men? Surely, you will better define courage and bravery having learned from their lives. No man is perfect, but the ideals of these men will inspire you. And make sure your children and grandchildren know their stories. (And for goodness sake, take your children to a rodeo!!! You will have a more patriotic experience than you have had in a long time. No excuses in Pennsylvania – there is a huge one at the Farm Show every year :)!