Mount Rushmore National Memorial is well-known throughout the world. Some have appreciated it in person, others have admired it on the big screen, but did you know the following facts about this sacred site?
Fact1: Mount Rushmore is famous for the carved faces of four former U.S. presidents – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The iconic figures of these men were sculpted into the Black Hills of South Dakota by Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers.
Fact 2: The sculpture cost $989,992.32 and took 14 years to complete – from October 4th, 1927 to October 31st, 1941.
Fact 3: The estimated erosion rate of the Mount Rushmore National Park is an inch every 10,000 years.
Fact 4: Each president’s head is 60 feet (18m) tall!
Fact 5: The four iconic heads all represent major symbols associated with the presidents and the history of the United States. Washington signifies the struggle for independence, Jefferson the idea of government by the people and for the people, Lincoln the ideas of equality and Roosevelt the role of the U.S. in world affairs.
Fact 6: Mount Rushmore is mostly composed of granite.
Fact 7: Borglum was 60 years old when he started work on the monument.
Fact 8: The president’s mouths are 18 feet wide, their noses 20 feet long and their eyes are 11 feet in width!
Fact 9: The sculpture is located 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level.
Fact 10: Mount Rushmore attracts around 3 million visitors each year!
Fact 11: The mountain was named after Charles E. Rushmore, an attorney from New York who investigated mining claims in the Black Hills in 1885.
Fact 12: The idea for this monument came from state historian Doane Robinson in order to promote tourism in South Dakota.
Fact 13: The original model of the monument had Thomas Jefferson on the left of George Washington. But, due to popular belief that the positioning gave off the message that Jefferson was more important than Washington, the partially carved face was blasted off and the design was altered to what it is today. There is also another theory for the change; apparently the stone where Jefferson was first carved was too weak so he had to be moved.
Fact 14: Behind the sculpted faces an opening, called the Hall of Records, was created and was supposed to house the story of Mount Rushmore, however, it was never finished because the project was low on money.
Fact 15: Mount Rushmore is considered to be one of America’s most inspiring symbols of democracy, along with the anthem and the Statue of Liberty.
Fact 16: Mount Rushmore is actually unfinished! Borglum intended to carve the figures of the presidents to the waist.
Fact 17: During the process of carving, workers removed around 450,000 tons of rock from Mount Rushmore, which can still be found in a pile near the base of the mountain.
Fact 18: There were no deaths during the carving of the iconic monument.
Fact 19: The memorial covers an area of 1,278 acres (5.17 km²).
Fact 20: Mount Rushmore held a spiritual significance for the Lakota tribe and they weren’t happy with the decision to carve the heads of four American presidents at that particular location. In response, a memorial to Crazy Horse is being carved just 17 miles from Mount Rushmore and when completed it will be the largest outdoor sculpture in the world! Although the sculpture is still being worked on, more than 60 years since carving was first begun, around 1 million visitors come to see the face of Crazy Horse each year.
Fact 21: The ownership rights of Mount Rushmore are still being disputed. The Sioux Nation won a court case against the federal government in 1980 and was awarded a settlement for the taking of property that was set aside for the tribe. However, Sioux Nation rejected the money since its acceptance would have meant that the tribe was discarding its rights to the land.