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Mount Rushmore

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Title: Mount Rushmore  
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Subject: Abraham Lincoln, WikiProject National Register of Historic Places/Cleanup listing, List of United States Presidents on currency, WikiProject Protected areas/Cleanup listing, Crazy Horse Memorial
Collection: 1941 Sculptures, Abraham Lincoln in Art, Black Hills, Buildings and Monuments Honoring American Presidents, Colossal Statues, Cultural Depictions of George Washington, Granite Sculptures, Granite Sculptures in South Dakota, Great Sioux War of 1876, Landforms of Pennington County, South Dakota, Landmarks in South Dakota, Monuments and Memorials in South Dakota, Monuments and Memorials on the National Register of Historic Places in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore, Mountain Monuments and Memorials, Mountains of South Dakota, National Memorials of the United States, Outdoor Sculptures in South Dakota, Protected Areas of Pennington County, South Dakota, Rock Formations of South Dakota, Symbols of South Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Tourism in South Dakota, United States National Park Service Areas in South Dakota
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Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Sculptures of Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln (left to right)
Map showing the location of Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Location Pennington County, South Dakota, United States
Nearest city Keystone, South Dakota
Area 1,278.45 acres (2.00 sq mi; 5.17 km2)
Established March 3, 1925
Visitors 2,185,447 (in 2012)[1]
Governing body National Park Service

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865).[2] The entire memorial covers 1,278.45 acres (2.00 sq mi; 5.17 km2) [3] and is 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level.[4]

South Dakota historian

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • Official website

External links

  • Larner, Jesse. Mount Rushmore: An Icon Reconsidered New York: Nation Books, 2002.
  • Taliaferro, John. Great White Fathers: The Story of the Obsessive Quest to Create Mount Rushmore. New York: PublicAffairs, c2002. ISBN 9781586482053. Puts the creation of the monument into a historical and cultural context.
  • Coutant, Arnaud, "Les Visages de l'Amérique, les constructeurs d'une démocratie fédérale", Mare et Martin, 2014 (ISBN 9782849341605). French Study about the Four Presidents, Life, presidency, influence about American political evolution.
  • The National Parks: Index 2001–2003. Washington: United States Department of the Interior
  • "Making Mount Rushmore". Oh, Ranger!. APN Media. Retrieved January 27, 2013. 
  • Dobrzynski, Judith H. (July 15, 2006). "A Monumental Achievement". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 27, 2013. 
  • Buckingham, Matthew (Summer 2002). "The Six Grandfathers, Paha Sapa, in the Year 502,002 C.E.". Cabinet Magazine. Immaterial Incorporated. Retrieved January 27, 2013. 
  • "Luigi Del Bianco: chief stone carver on Mount Rushmore, 1933–1940". Lou Del Bianco. Retrieved January 27, 2013. 
  • "Caring For A Monumental Sculpture" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved July 8, 2013. 

Further reading

  1. ^ a b c d "Park Statistics".  
  2. ^ Mount Rushmore National Memorial. December 6, 2005.60 SD Web Traveler, Inc. Retrieved April 7, 2006.
  3. ^ McGeveran, William A. Jr. et al. (2004). The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2004. New York: World Almanac Education Group, Inc. ISBN 0-88687-910-8.
  4. ^ a b Mount Rushmore, South Dakota (November 1, 2004). Retrieved March 13, 2006.
  5. ^ '!, episode 5x08 "Mount Rushmore", May 10, 2007
  6. ^ "Making Mount Rushmore | Mount Rushmore". Oh, Ranger!. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Biography:Senator Peter Norbeck". American Experience: Mount Rushmore. PBS. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Mount Rushmore". American Experience – TV's Most Watched History Series. PBS. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  9. ^ Belanger, Ian A. et al. "Mt. Rushmore — presidents on the rocks" at the Wayback Machine (archived May 14, 2006)
  10. ^ "Mount Rushmore National Memorial Frequently Asked Questions". National Park Service. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  11. ^ Keystone Area Historical Society Keystone Characters. Retrieved October 3, 2006.
  12. ^ "People & Events: The Carving of Stone Mountain". American Experience. PBS. Retrieved March 17, 2010. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Carving History (October 2, 2004). National Park Service.
  14. ^ Fite, Gilbert C. Mount Rushmore (May 2003). ISBN 0-9646798-5-X, the standard scholarly study.
  15. ^ "Carving History". National Park Service. Retrieved February 22, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b American Art, Vol. 5, No. 1/2. (Winter – Spring, 1991), pp. 142–67.
  17. ^ "Honeycombing process explained from". June 14, 2004. Archived from the original on August 1, 2008. Retrieved March 20, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Geology Fieldnotes". January 4, 2005. Retrieved October 22, 2010. 
  19. ^ a b American Experience "Timeline: Mount Rushmore" (2002). Retrieved March 20, 2006.
  20. ^ Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
  21. ^ Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Tourism in South Dakota. Laura R. Ahmann. Retrieved March 19, 2006.
  22. ^ Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Retrieved June 7, 2006.
  23. ^ "George Bush: Remarks at the Dedication Ceremony of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota". The American Presidency Project. July 3, 1991. Retrieved November 1, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Hall of Records". Mount Rushmore National Memorial web site. National Park Service. June 14, 2004. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved July 4, 2007. 
  25. ^ "For Mount Rushmore, An Overdue Face Wash". Washington Post. July 11, 2005. Retrieved March 17, 2010. 
  26. ^ a b c "Enjoy Wildlife......Safely." (PDF). National Park Service. National Park Service. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  27. ^ a b Freeman, Mary. "Mount Rushmore, South Dakota for Tourists". USA Today (Tysons Corner, VA: Gannett Company). Retrieved January 3, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Amphibians". National Park Service. National Park Service. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Nature & Science- Animals". NPS. November 26, 2006. Retrieved March 17, 2010. 
  30. ^ a b Mount Rushmore- Flora and Fauna. American Park Network. URL accessed on March 16, 2006. Web archive link Archived March 17, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ "Nature & Science – Plants". NPS. December 6, 2006. Retrieved March 17, 2010. 
  32. ^ Nature & Science- Groundwater. National Park Service. Retrieved April 1, 2006.
  33. ^ Nature & Science- Forests. National Park Service. Retrieved April 1, 2006.
  34. ^ a b Geologic Activity. National Park Service.
  35. ^ Irvin, James R. Great Plains Gallery (2001). Retrieved March 16, 2006.
  36. ^ "USDA Hardiness Zone Finder". The National Gardening Association. National Gardening Association. Retrieved January 3, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Weather History". National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. June 23, 2004. Archived from the original on July 8, 2006. Retrieved January 27, 2013. 
  38. ^ "Monthly Averages for Mount Rushmore Natl Memorial, SD". The Weather Channel. Retrieved January 3, 2014. 
  39. ^ "NOWData – NOAA Online Weather Data".  
  40. ^ "Popular South Dakota Attractions >>South Dakota". Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  41. ^ "Caring For A Monumental Sculpture" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved July 8, 2013. 
  42. ^ "Mount Rushmore National Memorial". CyArk. Retrieved July 8, 2013. 
  43. ^ Matthew Glass, "Producing Patriotic Inspiration at Mount Rushmore," Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 62, No. 2. (Summer, 1994), pp. 265–283.
  44. ^ David Melmer (December 13, 2004). "Historic changes for Mount Rushmore". Indiancountrytoday. Archived from the original on August 8, 2010. Retrieved March 17, 2010. 
  45. ^ Lame Deer, John (Fire) and Richard Erdoes. Lame Deer Seeker of Visions. Simon and Schuster, New York, New York, 1972. Paperback ISBN 0-671-55392-5
  46. ^ "3c Mt. Rushmore single". Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  47. ^ Scotts United States Stamp catalogue, 1982. Scott's Publishing Company. 1981.  , p. 289



See also

On August 11, 1952, the U.S. Post Office issued the Mount Rushmore Memorial commemorative stamp on the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the Mt. Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota.[46] On January 2, 1974 a 24-cents airmail stamp depicting the monument was also issued.[47]

Legacy and commemoration

Because of its fame as a monument, Mount Rushmore has been depicted in multiple places in popular culture. It is often depicted as a cover for a secret location; shown with faces removed, modified, or added; or parodied. The memorial was also famously used as the location of the climactic chase scene in Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 movie North by Northwest.

Mount Rushmore commemorative stamp of 1952
Roger Thornhill (North by Northwest

In popular culture

The Crazy Horse Memorial is being constructed elsewhere in the Black Hills to commemorate the famous Native American leader and as a response to Mount Rushmore. It is intended to be larger than Mount Rushmore and has the support of Lakota chiefs; the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation has rejected offers of federal funds. However, this memorial is likewise the subject of controversy, even within the Native American community.[45]

In 2004, the first Native American superintendent of the park was appointed. Gerard Baker has stated that he will open up more "avenues of interpretation", and that the four presidents are "only one avenue and only one focus."[44]

Mount Rushmore is controversial among Native Americans because the United States seized the area from the Lakota tribe after the Great Sioux War of 1876. The Treaty of Fort Laramie from 1868 had previously granted the Black Hills to the Lakota in perpetuity. Members of the American Indian Movement led an occupation of the monument in 1971, naming it "Mount Crazy Horse". Among the participants were young activists, grandparents, children and Lakota holy man John Fire Lame Deer, who planted a prayer staff atop the mountain. Lame Deer said the staff formed a symbolic shroud over the presidents' faces "which shall remain dirty until the treaties concerning the Black Hills are fulfilled."[43]

Air Force One flying over Mt. Rushmore in February 2001.


In 1998, electronic monitoring devices were installed to track movement in the topology of the sculpture to an accuracy of 3 mm. The site has been subsequently digitally recorded using a terrestrial laser scanning methodology in 2009 as part of the international Scottish Ten project, providing a record of unprecedented resolution and accuracy to inform the conservation of the site. This data was made accessible online to be freely used by the wider community to aid further interpretation and public access.[42]

The ongoing conservation of the site is overseen by the US National Park Service.[41] Physical efforts to conserve the monument have included replacement of the sealant applied originally by Gutzon Borglum, which had proved ineffective at providing water resistance (components include linseed oil, granite dust and white lead). A modern silicone replacement was used, disguised with granite dust.

Laser scan data showing Abraham Lincoln.


Tourism is South Dakota's second-largest industry, and Mount Rushmore is the state's top tourist attraction.[40] In 2012, 2,185,447 people visited the park.[1]

Historical visitor count[1]
Year Visitors
1941 393,000
1950 740,499
1960 1,067,000
1970 1,965,700
1980 1,284,888
1990 1,671,673
2000 1,868,876
2010 2,331,237


Climate data for Mount Rushmore National Memorial, 1981-2011 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 68
Average high °F (°C) 36
Daily mean °F (°C) 28
Average low °F (°C) 19
Record low °F (°C) −38
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.38
Average snowfall inches (cm) 5.8
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01) 4.3 4.7 6.3 8.2 11.9 12.6 11.4 9.3 7.4 6.8 4.4 4.2 91.5
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1) 3.9 3.8 3.9 3.1 0.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 1.4 2.7 3.4 23.1
Source #1: [38]
Source #2: [39]

The two wettest months of the year are May and June. Orographic lift causes brief but strong afternoon thunderstorms during the summer.[37]

Mount Rushmore has a humid continental climate (Dwb in the Koeppen climate classification). It is inside a USDA Plant Hardiness Zone of 5a, meaning certain plant life in the area can withstand a low temperature of no less than −20 °F (−29 °C).[36]


made it suitable, and because it faces the southeast, the workers also had the advantage of sunlight for most of the day. [4] The mountain's height of 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level[13] The tallest mountain in the region is

The Black Hills granites were exposed to erosion during the Neoproterozoic, but were later buried by sandstone and other sediments during the Cambrian. Remaining buried throughout the Paleozoic, they were re-exposed again during the Laramide orogeny around 70 million years ago.[34] The Black Hills area was uplifted as an elongated geologic dome.[35] Subsequent erosion stripped the granite of the overlying sediments and the softer adjacent schist. Some schist does remain and can be seen as the darker material just below the sculpture of Washington.

Mount Rushmore is largely composed of granite. The memorial is carved on the northwest margin of the Harney Peak granite batholith in the Black Hills of South Dakota, so the geologic formations of the heart of the Black Hills region are also evident at Mount Rushmore. The batholith magma intruded into the pre-existing mica schist rocks during the Proterozoic, roughly 1.6 billion years ago.[34] Coarse grained pegmatite dikes are associated with the granite intrusion of Harney Peak and are visibly lighter in color, thus explaining the light-colored streaks on the foreheads of the presidents.

Mount Rushmore, showing the full size of the mountain and the scree of rocks from the sculpting and construction.
Mount Rushmore is near Keystone, South Dakota.



Through the study of tree rings, it has been determined that forest fires have occurred in the ponderosa forests surrounding Mount Rushmore around every 27 years based on evidence of fire scars found within tree core samples. Large conflagrations are not common. Most events have been ground fires that serve to clear forest debris.[33] The area is a climax community. Recent pine beetle infestations have threatened the forest.[27]

The area receives about 18 inches (460 mm) of precipitation on average per year, enough to support abundant animal and plant life. Trees and other plants help to control surface runoff. Dikes, seeps, and springs help to dam up water that is flowing downhill, providing watering spots for animals. In addition, stones like sandstone and limestone help to hold groundwater, creating aquifers.[32]

At lower elevations, coniferous trees, mainly the ponderosa pine, surround most of the monument, providing shade from the sun. Other trees include the bur oak, the Black Hills spruce, and the cottonwood. Nine species of shrubs grow near Mount Rushmore. There is also a wide variety of wildflowers, including especially the snapdragon, sunflower, and violet. Towards higher elevations, plant life becomes sparser.[30] However, only approximately five percent of the plant species found in the Black Hills are indigenous to the region.[31]

The flora and fauna of Mount Rushmore are similar to those of the rest of the Black Hills region of South Dakota. Birds including the turkey vulture, bald eagle, hawk, and meadowlark fly around Mount Rushmore, occasionally making nesting spots in the ledges of the mountain. Smaller birds, including songbirds, nuthatches, and woodpeckers, inhabit the surrounding pine forests.[26] Terrestrial mammals include the mouse, least chipmunk, red squirrel, skunk, porcupine, raccoon, beaver, badger, coyote, bighorn sheep, bobcat, elk, mule deer, yellow-bellied marmot, and American bison.[26][27] The striped chorus frog, western chorus frog, and northern leopard frog also inhabit the area.[28] In addition, several species of snakes inhabit the region. Grizzly Bear Brook and Starling Basin Brook, the two streams in the memorial, support fish such as the longnose dace and the brook trout. Mountain goats are not indigenous to the area but can also be found here. They are descended from goats which were a gift from Canada to Custer State Park in 1924 but later escaped.[26][29][30]

Aerial NW direction view of Mount Rushmore National Memorial from a helicopter.
The Black Hills opposite Mount Rushmore.


Ten years of redevelopment work culminated with the completion of extensive visitor facilities and sidewalks in 1998, such as a Visitor Center, the lichens. However, on July 8, 2005, Alfred Kärcher GmbH, a German manufacturer of pressure washing and steam cleaning machines, conducted a free cleanup operation which lasted several weeks, using pressurized water at over 200 °F (93 °C).[25]

In a canyon behind the carved faces is a chamber, cut only 70 feet (21 m) into the rock, containing a vault with sixteen porcelain enamel panels. The panels include the text of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, biographies of the four presidents and Borglum, and the history of the U.S. The chamber was created as the entrance-way to a planned "Hall of Records"; the vault was installed in 1998.[24]

[23] On October 15, 1966, Mount Rushmore was listed on the

Entrance to the site
Side view of George Washington from rocky terrain at Mount Rushmore

The Sculptor's Studio — a display of unique plaster models and tools related to the sculpting — was built in 1939 under the direction of Borglum. Borglum died from an Louisiana Purchase commemorating in eight-foot-tall gilded letters the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Louisiana Purchase, and seven other territorial acquisitions from Alaska to Texas to the Panama Canal Zone.[16] In total, the entire project cost US$989,992.32.[21] Unusually for a project of such size, no workers died during the carving.[22]

In 1933, the National Park Service took Mount Rushmore under its jurisdiction. Julian Spotts helped with the project by improving its infrastructure. For example, he had the tram upgraded so it could reach the top of Mount Rushmore for the ease of workers. By July 4, 1934, Washington's face had been completed and was dedicated. The face of Thomas Jefferson was dedicated in 1936, and the face of Abraham Lincoln was dedicated on September 17, 1937. In 1937, a bill was introduced in Congress to add the head of civil-rights leader Susan B. Anthony, but a rider was passed on an appropriations bill requiring federal funds be used to finish only those heads that had already been started at that time.[19] In 1939, the face of Theodore Roosevelt was dedicated.

[13] The image of Thomas Jefferson was originally intended to appear in the area at Washington's right, but after the work there was begun, the rock was found to be unsuitable, so the work on the Jefferson figure was dynamited, and a new figure was sculpted to Washington's left.[18] In total, about 450,000 short tons (408,233 t) of rock were blasted off the mountainside.[17], followed by the process of "honeycombing".dynamite The carving of Mount Rushmore involved the use of [16][13] sculpted the colossal 60 foot (18 m) high carvings of [15] Between October 4, 1927, and October 31, 1941, Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers

The original plan was to perform the carvings in [13] Congress authorized the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission on March 3, 1925.[13] President Coolidge insisted that, along with Washington, two Republicans and one Democrat be portrayed.[14]

Construction of the Mount Rushmore monument

[12] Historian

As Six Grandfathers, the mountain was part of the route that Lakota leader Black Elk took in a spiritual journey that culminated at Harney Peak. Following a series of military campaigns from 1876 to 1878, the United States asserted control over the area, a claim that is still disputed on the basis of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie (see section "Controversy" below). Among American settlers, the peak was known variously as Cougar Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Slaughterhouse Mountain, and Keystone Cliffs. It was named Mount Rushmore during a prospecting expedition by Charles Rushmore, David Swanzey (husband of Carrie Ingalls), and Bill Challis.[11]

Originally known to the Lakota Sioux as Six Grandfathers, the mountain was renamed after Charles E. Rushmore, a prominent New York lawyer, during an expedition in 1885.[9] At first, the project of carving Rushmore was undertaken to increase tourism in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. After long negotiations involving a Congressional delegation and President Calvin Coolidge, the project received Congressional approval. The carving started in 1927, and ended in 1941 with no fatalities.[10]

A model at the site depicting Mount Rushmore's intended final design
Mount Rushmore before construction, circa 1905.



  • History 1
  • Ecology 2
  • Geography 3
    • Geology 3.1
    • Climate 3.2
  • Tourism 4
  • Conservation 5
  • Controversy 6
  • In popular culture 7
  • Legacy and commemoration 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Mount Rushmore has become an iconic symbol of the United States, and has appeared in works of fiction, and has been discussed or depicted in other popular works. It attracts over two million people annually.[1]


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