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Mount Rushmore National Memorial: A Presidential Tribute

Post by Camila da Paz

Rising above the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a stunning sight to behold. Audacious in scale and magnificent in artistry, the massive sculpture is a memorial to four American presidents.

The idea of a large mountain carving is credited to South Dakota State Historian Doane Robinson, who was looking for ways to attract tourists to the state. Recruiting renowned sculptor Gutzon Borglum to the project, Doane and other prominent South Dakota leaders secured Congressional support in 1925 and began to raise funds, including $250,000 from the federal government. Carving began in 1927, removing tons of granite and slowly shaping the mountain. Originally meant to portray the presidents to the waist, only the heads were finished. Borglum’s death in 1941, along with the impending American involvement in World War II, led to the end of the work on the mountain, and on October, 1941, Mount Rushmore National Memorial was declared a completed project.

Carving Mount Rushmore was a project of colossal proportion, ambition and achievement. It involved the efforts of nearly 400 men and women. The work was exciting, but dangerous. Ninety percent of the mountain was carved using dynamite. Only the last 3-6 inches of rock were removed by drillers using jackhammers. Hand tools smoothed the stone and added small details, like wrinkles and moles.

The workers had to endure conditions that varied from blazing hot to bitterly cold and windy. Each day they climbed 700 stairs to the top of the mountain to punch-in on the time clock. Then 3/8 inch thick steel cables lowered them over the front of the 500-foot face of the mountain in a "bosun chair." Despite the dangers, no one was killed during the project.

Over the decades, Mount Rushmore has grown in fame as a symbol of America: a symbol of freedom and hope for people from all cultures and backgrounds. That's one of the reasons it is used widely used during President's Day, also known as Washington’s Birthday, and in 2021 we celebrate President's Day today.

Happy Presidents Day!

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