Located in the Black Hills in South Dakota, this statue represents the Lakota warrior Crazy Horse.
Started in 1948, the statue is 171m high.
Regular family admission fees
$10 – Adults – Under 6-years of age – FREE
$27 – Carload (whichever is better for you)
$5 a rider
In 1948, we went through the Badlands (camped overnight), and visited Mt Rushmore and Pierre South Dakota on our way west. The whole completed monument was very new when we saw it and perhaps was not even finished.
In those days, tourism was in its infancy and the 2,500 seat amphitheater, interpretive center and theaters, scenic hiking trail, restaurant, gift shop, and book store were not there then. There was just the monument itself, and a sign about it which said
Elevation 6200 ft.
THE SHRINE OF DEMOCRACY
Mt. Rushmore National Memorial
World's greatest sculptural work began in 1927. Gutzon Borglum, world's artist and sculptor planned and supervised the monument. Financed by contributions and Federal funds. Busts are proportionate to men 465 ft. high. Top of Washington's head to tip of chin 60 ft. Rock is ageless granite. Busts are of Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Lincoln. Memorial dedicated by Calvin Coolidge 1927. Dedication of Washington by J.S.Cullinan 1930, Jefferson by F.D.Roosevelt 1936, Lincoln by Sen. Burke 1937, Roosevelt by Gov. Bushfield 1938. Sculptor died 1941. Son carries work to completion.
Heavy equipment was needed to do this work, as well as some 400 workers in addition to the artist. Dynamite was used for some work, but a lot was with jackhammers. The workshop is also a small gift shop, although I recommend walking back up to the main gift shop before purchasing here.
At the lowest end of the Presidential Trail, just prior to the steep stone stairs back up to the parking lot level, is the series of buildings that showcase the plaster molds and tools of the sculptor. Here, the original model shows a more ambitious project that was never realized.
Here are a number of images of the trail, which preserves the Black Hills ecosystem, a difficult thing to do since some pine forests in the area appear to be dying due to a beetle infestation. At the time I was there, signs warned visitors to not touch the trees--they had recently been sprayed. The last photo here shows the old stone stairs used at the main entrance before the new parking garage and Avenue of the Flags entrance was built.
The Grand View Terrace is a popular place to mix tourist portrait with presidential sculpture. The only problem is that the mountain is very much higher than the heads of the subject. I asked another tourist to shoot myself and my wife, but his composition showed our feet and precious little of our smiles, all in an effort to include the presidents in the picture. I had to crop and edit to get this image.
Roosevelt was the president most responsible of initiating a strong program of land preservation that ultimately led to the national park system in place today. Roosevelt was also an icon of American nationalism and rising world power for having dispatched the first US naval fleet to circumnavigate the globe. Roosevelt more or less closed out the frontier era, and so it's worth noting at this point that the sculpting of the founding fathers on a the Lakota Sioux mountain was not without controversy. After all the mountain is within land that was originally set aside for the Lakota Sioux forever, according to a treaty of 1868. Then, after the Black Hill's War of 1876-77, the land was taken by the government. Roosevelt's portrait is interesting for the reproduction of his eye glasses.
The least well represented portrait in my view is that of Jefferson, which lacks life and doesn't really resemble the 3rd president very closely. Veins in the rock strata interfere with the facial details a bit. Nevertheless, Jefferson was a good choice for Mt Rushmore as brilliant author of the Declaration of Independence. That Jefferson is somewhat hidden behind Washington is somewhat interesting thematically, perhaps emphasizing the role of the military in protecting civilian freedoms. However, Jefferson's portrait is more prominent and more elevated than that of Teddy Roosevelt.
The Presidential Trail seems to be organized by perceived statue of the presidents. So Washington figures first, but stops for views of Lincoln come next. Adjacent to Lincoln is another butte, for potential future bust building. An interesting aspect of the Lincoln portrait is how the sculptor left the original butte more or less as is to serve as Lincoln's hair and beard.
There's a short hiking trail that offers a variety of views of the sculpted faces of the founding fathers, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt. The trail has wheelchair access about half the way, then the other half is a series of rather steep Trex decked staircases. The first view stops emphasize the portrait of Washington. Note that adjacent to Washington is another butte that could be sculpted into the bust of yet another figure, presummably Susan B Anthony, who was approved by Congress, but never funded. There's a view stop under a rock with a cropped image of Washington. Note also the unique rock strata of Mt. Rushmore, which was originally called the Six Grandfathers by the Lakota Sioux. The mountain was renamed in 1885 after New York attorney, Charles Rushmore,
The original stone stairway and view spot, which are still in use as part of the Presidential Trail, were replaced as the main entrance by a rather impressive new granite entrance that includes the Avenue of the Flags, that ultimately that leads to the Grandview Terrace and amphitheater. This renovation was completed in 1998. The Avenue of the Flags has granite columns that commemorate each state's admission into the union. All fifty state flags are should be flown, but I didn't stop to count them all.
Make sure you take the time to wonder around and check out the book store which houses the museum. It has some wonderful historical artifacts on display and the story behind the sculptor.
Located at the entrance to the memorial from the parking structure.
Open All Year (7-days a week)
April 29th - May 12th 8:00am - 7:00pm
May 13th - August 14th 8:00am - 10:00pm
August 15th - September 30th 8:00am - 9:00pm
October 1st - April 28th 8:00am - 5:00pm
Custer State Park is comprised of 71,000 acres jsut south of the Black Hills. Custer SP is known for its 1,500 buffalo, hiking trails, fishing, scenic drives, and unsoiled wilderness. This is South Dakota's largest state park.
From May through October, entrance is $5 per person while it costs just $2.50 per person the rest of the year. Annual licenses are available for $23 per vehicle.
Though I am not a huge fan of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, I can appreciate how much work went into making this grandiose carving a reality. First, they had to get the concept passed by Congress and that was no easy feet in 1927. Coming up with the money to do to was another tough task, especially right in the midst of The Great Depression. The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, was not keen on working under the watchful eye of the National Park service and spent much of his energy freeing himself of their control. To be more accurate, this was not the work of one man. It took 400 men 14 years with a lot of help from dynamite along the way. They surely needed it as the carving is largely in the natural granite of the mountain. The area is noted for extreme weather and they had to deal with intense sun and wind while earning their $8 per hour.
The 60 foot likenesses of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln are very well done and certainly impressive but to me, they are part of the National Park service and should be included on their inter-park annual pass, America The Beautiful rather than charging $10 to park. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, plan to be there for the evening ranger talk on patriotism that leads into the move, “America's Lasting Legacy,” which culminates the dramatic lighting of the four presidents. I've not been there for this but I imagine it's pretty touching. If I ever return I'll try and time it to attend. Maybe I'll find a place to park away from the amphitheater and walk up!
We took a trip out west last summer so I could show the kids that area of the country. We walked the Presidential Trail and took a lot of pictures. We learned that this was a monument created by Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers, and it took 14 years (from 1927 to 1941) and it stopped when the funding ran out. Actually Borglum didn't do the work - the workers went up and blasted away pieces of the mountain a little bit at a time.
Dynamite was used to remove rock from the mountain until there was only a thin, three to six inch layer of granite left. This final layer of granite was removed by a process called "honeycombing". Then the surface was worked smooth with a bumper tool. This left the faces as smooth as a sidewalk.
I always wondered why it was called Mount Rushmore as none of the people in the monument and none of the people associated with it is named Rushmore. According to the NPS it was named after Charles E. Rushmore, a New York City Attorney, in 1885 who was out here on business.
Reservations are not needed to visit the park. There is no admission fee to the park only a parking fee.
$10.00 - Annual Pass (Cars,Motorcycles and RV's)
$50.00 Commercial Bus - Day
May 23 - September 30, 2009 Open 7 days a week
May 23 - Aug. 14 8am - 10pm
Aug. 15 - Sept. 30 8am - 9pm