Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Classic photo of Mount Rushmore
Photo From Mount Rushmore Brochure
Showing Sculpting In Process - (Appears
To Be Thomas Jefferson)
I know I released a photo of Mount Rushmore Sept. 23, but this is a more detailed post, the highlight of our bus tour. You can find hundreds of hits on the Internet. Its inception was by South Dakota's state historian Doane Robinson, who, in 1923, suggested giant statues be carved in the Black Hills to draw tourists.
Husband at Mt. Rushmore
As with all big ideas there were scoffers to downright hostility to a new, different ideology. There are outcroppings of tall, thin peaks, called the Needles,  which resist erosion in the Black Hills. Robinson's imagination was the Needles were a parade of Indian leaders and American explorers, shaping the American Frontier. [I saw some of the Needles, but failed to get a photo. Some Needles' shapes reminded me of stone thin evergreen trees.] Here is a link to a YouTube film clip of scaling and climbing the Needles

You would not find me trying to scale the Needles; I cannot scale a Porta-Pot without falling--maybe the key for me is some equipment!!!

An unconventional sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, sculpting in the shadow of  brother, Solon, was making  a name for himself  at Stone Mountain Memorial in Georgia.  He was patriotic, beginning to create a reputation by sculpting 'the celebration of things American' which meant BIG. 
NitWit1 at Mt. Rushmore; the Rollator
Was Great To Help Me In Walking,
Carrying Camera, Oxygen, Emergency
 Medicines And Warm Apparel.
This Was the Highest Altitude Of
The Trip. I Had Lots of SOB, But
Recovered Quickly With Several
Whiffs of Pure Oxygen.
[Photo by Husband]

After determining the granite of the Needles did not meet Borglum's criteria for large sculptures, he began scouting other locations for another solid durable granite mountain. He chose Mount Rushmore named in 1885 for New York attorney Charles E. Rushmore. His criteria included the exposed granite face southeast to receive sunlight most of the day.

Borglum envisioned four Presidents in commemoration of the foundation, preservation and continental expansion of his beloved country. 

He chose George Washington [head dedicated in 1930] as liberator and First President to anchor the left position. Washington deeply believed in liberty and the Republican model of government entrusted to the American people.  (paraphrased from his First Inaugural Address].

Gutzon Borglum
[One Place I Should Have
Used Polarizer To Reduce
Reflections Shown On Plaque]
Beside Washington is Thomas Jefferson [head dedicated in 1936], chosen for his influence and writing of the Declaration of Independence, his two terms as President and mastermind of the Louisiana Purchase.

Mount Rushmore
and Avenue of  Flags

Sandwiched between Jefferson and Lincoln is Theodore Roosevelt with mustache-somewhat thicker than I remember [head dedicated in 1939] who promoted progressive causes like conservation and economic reform,  and expanded the country's influence by promoting the construction of the Panama canal.

T. Roosevelt had a sickly childhood, suffering severe asthma. As was his mantra, he took the"bull by the horns" and converted his image to an outdoorsman, who once owned cattle ranches in the Dakotas.
Mount Rushmore - Avenue of Flags
Long View

Anchoring the far right position is Abraham Lincoln with beard, albeit shorter than I remember [head dedicated in 1937], whose leadership restored the Union and ended slavery.

Dedication apparently did not mean the sculpture was completed. It appears it meant a commission was let to begin the sculpting.

The memorial was completed in 1939.  However the memorial site was dedicated by Calvin Coolidge in 1927. Actual carving took only 6 years, but it took 14 years to completion as funding had to be found. Borglum lobbied from state to federal officials in a manner he called a "one man war" to fund his work as a national memorial. Finally $836,000 of federal money brought the final cost to nearly one million, a tidy sum in 1930s, but not today.

Another Classic View of Mount Rushmore
Borglum died  in 1941 before completion of the memorial, but son, Lincoln Borglum supervised completion. Although Gutzon Borglum had dreams of an entablature engraved with a brief history of the country and a Hall of Records to preserve national documents and artifacts, work stopped in  October 1941; the time was nearing for his beloved America to defend the very principles his memorial exemplified and preserved in the granite of South Dakota.

Final dedication was held in 1951. I do not remember this but I was a teenager in that time period, probably not pursuing history.

We missed the evening lighting ceremony as it is conducted in an amphitheater nearer the monument. There was no way I could navigate the steps of the theater. I understand it is inspiring. But I am thankful for having seen one American National Memorial I admired. There is a Presidential walking trail to an area near the base of the monument, a Sculptor's Studio, visitor's center, visitor's services, Lincoln  Borglum Museum, gift shop. book shop, audio tour building, and restaurant. We took in the visitor's center.
Mount Rushmore and Avenue of Flags
Note: Arkanas Flag - Up-Front on Left!
Statistics of George Washington's head:
Tall as a 6-story building.
Nose length - 20 feet (I guess we can call him Pres. Long-Nose, Indians might use such nomenclature.)
Mouth - 18 feet, again Mr. Big Mouth.
Forehead to Chin - 60 feet.

Question 1: Have you figured out what's missing on all 4 Presidents? What else may be missing from one President? [it is hard to tell from photos]

The Avenue of Flags was added in 1976 for the U. S. Bicentennial celebration. Was I every surprised to see Arkansas's flag, front and center on the first of the two multi-sided column rows of flags. Above link is incorrect in that at least Arkansas was on the 'Washington' side. However I believe the placement, which is alphabetical, started with the columns near the monument--not sure, but seems the only way Arkansas flag would have the position it had from position I took the photos.

All my photos plainly show the Arkansas Flag.

These Two Huge Rock Formations Reminded Me Of Two
Comical Old Men Watching over Mount Rushmore! This
photo was taken looking across street of entrance
to Mount Rushmore.
QUESTION 2: There 56 flags for each state, district, commonwealth and territory. If 51 account for 50 states and district of Columbia, what are the others? 

Question 3: If a similar sculpture were created today, what Presidents do you think might be chosen today?
Mount Rushmore and Avenue of Flags
Arkansas Flag Prevalent in this Photo
(my favorite of this shot)
Construction of Mount Rushmore
Photo of Government Provided Brochure
You May Be Able to Enlarge and Read
The Print on the Right of Photo
PHOTOS: by Nitwit1, unless otherwise noted. 

Some phrases and information attributed to Mount Rushmore National Memorial South Dakota (brochure), provided by National Park Service, U.S. Department of Interior, GPO 2010-357-940/80401 Reprint 2010, printed on recycled paper. I found no copyright; our taxpayers footed the bill, so I don't think I am in violation of any law, especially with this attribution.

Answers to questions 1 & 2

1. Missing on Presidents: (a) EARS; (b) Theodore Roosevelt wore Pince-Nez eyeglasses in nearly all photos I've seen. However, Sculptor Gurzon Borglum knew him personally.

2. Flags (not 50 states or District of Columbia): Common Wealth of Puerto Rico, Territory of Virgin Islands, Territory of Guam, Territory of American Samoa, Commonwealth of Mariana Islands.

3. Opinion - mine only:

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt [for reasons already stated] would probably make the list.

Add Franklin Roosevelt - held the union together through Great Depression, WWII

Ronald Reagan - led the union through stagnation of economy, ended the Cold War

Possibly John F. Kennedy - equalization of races continued by LBJ after JFK's asassination,  but certain decisions began to stir Vietnam conflict. My brother was a Navy radioman privy to top clearance; after discharge he declared JFK was responsible for starting war in Vietnam. His response to certain foreign affairs initiated certain events leading to conflicts.

I considered Dwight Eisenhower as the Interstate Highway System  began under his watch and provided many jobs, but his WWII service seemed to overshadow his presidency which was considered mediocre by some historians.

History is not complete on Bill Clinton or Barrack Obama for me to make a decision; I lingered on Lyndon Johnson as he created Medicare/Medicaid, but he escalated the Vietnam War, IN MY OPINION.

However, sculpting a  memorial of even 4 presidents, much less adding 2 or more would never happen in our current political environment and economic instability. I can hear the yowls if Congress was asked for such funds with a 14+ trillion dollar debt to service and pay, looking them in the face. 

Another link with interesting information is here.

I reallly recommend a visit here and plan to spend a day to take advantage of the amenities offered. A large number of hotel/motels are located near the memorial. It is a national park so senior citizen passes are recognized.


Dimple said...

You certainly had an interesting vacation. I'm glad your rings were found, and that you avoided rattlesnakes.
My husband and I have traveled across S.D. on three trips, and have both visited Mt. Rushmore and stayed in Murdo (but in Murdo we stayed at the Sioux Motel). When at Mt. Rushmore, I was somewhat disappointed that the sculptures weren't BIGGER--the usual photos one sees don't give the scale, and my imagination had enlarged them!
I remember signs for the Corn Palace, but we didn't stop. Maybe another time...

Amber Star said...

Dang computer is acting crazy! It couldn't be operator error. arrgghh

Anyway, we haven't gotten that far north yet. We probably need to get started traveling that way sooner than later. My knees aren't getting any better and I don't even want to talk about my back. You've heard way too much about that whole thing this year.

Your vacation sure was an interesting one! When I got to the part about what is missing from all of the Presidents, I was stumped. Glad you put the answer, but I thought I'd never find it. *grin* I think FDR should be one, if they added any more. Ike is loved by me for the interstate highway system, but I don't know if that would qualify him enough. History will have to decide on who were the best of our time.

Oh yes...good thing you put all the other provinces, etc., because I either had forgotten/never knew about some of them. I got Puerto Rico, but I'd have gone to the others dragging my passport and trying to use it for entry.

Glad you are back and all in one piece still.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting and educational post. I read things here I had never heard before. Thank you for posting all the information. The carvings were finished the year I was born and I never knew that. All the pictures are great. The ones of you and your husband are very good too. Glad you had your Rollater I can tell it was very handy and helped you out a lot with all you had to have with you. I am so glad you took all the nice pictures on your trip and you are sharing your experiences and the pictures with us. You are sweet to do that. Hugs

Cheryl said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post, loved the history you mentioned and highlighted. I think I must have slept through some of my history lessons all those years ago!

faye said...

what a great post... and obviously a
great trip.

I have never seen Mt Rushmore, but now I must ... thank you !!