About Mount Rushmore
The rocky peaks of the Black Hills, rising to 5,725 feet, above forests of pine, aspen, spruce and birch trees, with the priairies of South Dakota in the distance, were shaped by sculptor Gutzon Borglum into a colossal memorial for four great and influential presidents of the United States of America. The project required the efforts of 400 workmen using dynamite and jackhammers, working for 14 years to remove 450,000 tons of rock to reveal the 60-foot-tall faces of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt, 500 feet above the surrounding country. The bright granite shines in the sun, against the deep blue sky, flanked by the dark colors of the forest on the slopes below.
While we know that the first motivation behind Mount Rushmore was to encourage tourism in South Dakota, a spirit of patriotism burned bright in the hearts of Borglum, his assistants, and those who promoted and oversaw the project. The love they felt for their freedom and liberty, and the great minds who had brought it about, they desired to communicate to future generations, such as us, by this monumental accomplishment.
The National Park Service oversaw the carving of Mt. Rushmore, and it was established as a National Memorial on March 3, 1925, two years before carving began. 1,278 acres are included within the park boundaries. It is accessed by following State Highway 244 a short distance west from Keystone, or on the other side from U. S. Highway 385. At the base of the mountain a large parking facility (requiring a fee) provides access to the Avenue of Flags, a short stone walkway, flanked by beautiful granite buildings housing a visitors center, museum and other facilities, and which leads to the Grand View Terrace, which offers the prime views of the monument. The President's Trail loops around the base of the mountain and back to the Terrace.
Viewed as an effort to promote tourism, Mount Rushmore is a smashing success. 2,212,178 people visited in 2003. Nearby Keystone is packed with tourist facilities and attractions, as well as much of the highway from Rapid City into the mountains. Its success in passing on the ideals and virtues of the founding fathers is more difficult to determine. Certainly all peoples could benefit from emulating the integrity and charity exemplified by these great men.
The Black Hills area surrounding Mount Rushmore offers a wide range of recreational opportunities including camping and hiking among the beautiful, forested mountains. Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park are both located a short drive from Mount Rushmore. Development along U.S. Highway 16 between Rapid City and Keystone has added quite a variety of additional tourist attractions.