On October 4, 1927, sculpting began on a giant mountain face in the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota.
It was decided that South Dakota would be the perfect spot to carve our most beloved presidents’ faces into a rock stolen from the Lakota tribe after the Great Sioux War of 1876. Whoops…
The highway attraction of the century, folks – literally.
Doane Robsinson, a man who dedicated his life to telling the stories of South Dakota, was seeking a way to bring more people to the state as a tourist destination. (Most likely to create some more stories.) He hired a sculptor by the name of Gutzon Borglum to comprise the colossal art piece.
This process took 12 years. “Make it snappy up there Gutzon! We’re itchin’ for some tourists!”
The first finished portrait on the mountain, according to the National Park Service, was the head honcho himself, G-Dubs. (George Washington) Jefferson was next, however, Jefferson’s face had formed a large crack shortly after being finished. Workers removed the cracked portrait with dynamite and started-over again – slightly to the left.
“Guzton!?!? What the hell is going on up there?!”
Here is the timeline of the 1,278.45 acre project:
Washington’s Mug: 1934
Jefferson’s Noggin: 1936
Lincoln’s Cranium: 1937
Ted’s Head: (Teddy Roosevelt): 1939
Ultimately, the project cost about $1 million – which nowadays gets you a small fry and a Coke in terms of national monuments. Guzton Borglum continued to service the monument until he died unexpectedly in 1941. Certainly it wasn’t from spending a decade carving giant faces on the side of a mountain…
(RIP Guzton – he died doing what he loved… promoting the South Dakota tourism agenda.)
The granite monument was named after Charles E. Rushmore, a high-profile lawyer from New York in 1885, and handed over to the National Park Service in 1933. The sculpture remains one of the United States’ most famous attractions, and brings more than 3 million visitors each year. Mission accomplished!