Mount Rushmore is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. On it are carved faces of four American Presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
In 1923, Doane Robinson, a resident of South Dakota, had the idea of the monument in order to attract visitors to his state.
In 1924, Robinson contacted the sculptor who was working on the Stone Mountain monument in Georgia. The sculptor, Gutson Borglum, chose the mountain in the Black Hills which would be good for the monument. He saw that it faced east and the rising sun and was higher than any other point in the area. He knew that the mountain had to be between 400 and 500 feet high. The monument is made of solid granite.
Robinson worked with Congress to gain the funds for the project. Congress created the Mount Rushmore National Commission. The government agreed to put up $250,000 in funds if $250,000 could be raised elsewhere also. Borglum began his work. In 1933, the Mount Rushmore National Commission became a part of the National Park Service. Although the sculptor didn't like being overseen by the NPS, he continued to carve until his death in 1941, at age 72. His son Lincoln finished the monument. Mount Rushmore was dedicated in October, 1941 and opened to the public. The final cost was about one million dollars.
Gutson Borglum made the decision on which four Presidents to carve on the mountain. He chose George Washington because he was the founder of our democracy. Thomas Jefferson was responsible for the acquisition of the huge amount of land known as the Louisiana Purchase. He also wrote the Declaration of Independence. Abraham Lincoln wanted to preserve the union. Theodore Roosevelt was heavily involved in conservation. He also represented the Industrial Revolution.
As a reference point of the size of the faces, the head of George Washington is 60 feet long. 90% of the faces were carved with dynamite. Borglum made a five-foot mask of each face as a guide for the workers. The sculptor realized that much mathematical calculation and engineering skill would have to go into transferring the models onto the mountain. He had to be a geologist and an explosive expert also. He made a 'pointing machine' by which he could transfer markings from the model to the mountain. He used a 1:12 scale. Every inch on the mask was equal to one foot or 12 inches on the face. Drillers hung over the edge in seats suspended form the top to shape the features.
As a person looks at the mountain, left to right the faces are Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln. These are not in chronological order but by what works best with the shape of the stone. Originally, Thomas Jefferson was on our left. Borglum then decided it wasn't working correctly with the rock, so he dynamited the face and moved it to the other side.
Gutson Borglum studied in Paris and was influenced by the famous sculptor Rodin. He was the first person to have his work purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. When he was working on the Stone Mountain monument in Georgia, bad feelings broke out. He never finished his work there. After he left, the carving was totally erased. However, his experience at that site helped him immensely with the Mount Rushmore project.
While Borglum was away for several different periods, his son worked on the sculpting. Borglum made a statue of Thomas Paine for France. He also made a statue of Woodrow Wilson for Poland.
To link to this Mount Rushmore page, copy the following code to your site: