on August 7, 2009
After the Crazy Horse Memorial on the third day we went to the Mt. Rushmore National Monument. The mountain was originally known by the Lakota Sioux as Six Grandfathers which was part of the route that Lakota leader Black Elk took for a spiritual journey. The area was taken over by the US around 1877 on a claim that is still disputed based on the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie. It was named Mount Rushmore during a prospecting expedition by Rushmore, David Swanzey, and Bill Challis. The idea for the Mount Rushmore sculptures came from Historian Doane Robinson in 1923 who wanted to promote tourism in South Dakota. In 1924, Robinson asked sculptor Gutzon Borglum to become a part of the project. Mount Rushmore commission was authorized by congress on March 3, 1925. Between 1927 and 1941 Borlum and over 400 workers sculpted 60 foot carving of 4 US presidents. What is notable is that not one worker died during the construction of this massive project. They chose George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln to represent the first 150 years of American history. The sculpture was supposed to be different in fact Susan B Anthony was to be included. A lack of funds stopped the competition of the project in 1941.When you first walk in, you can see Flags of different states and the dates they were accepted into the United States. Here, you can try posing with your state flag or the state that you want to go to. Continuing further there is a museum area where you can see how the monument was built. You can see the monument in varying degrees of progress. Also, there is a case with different used picture postcards of Rushmore. It is interesting to see the art work over the years for a monument that relatively does not change. Directly in front of the monument is a stage area. Here, there are various benches where you can sit and watch the monument. I guess at the stage are different speeches or performances are put on. Starting from the stage area you can walk around the monument. While at the stage area try to aligning your heads with that of the 3 presidents so you can take that cheesy picture and become part of the monument. Do not worry, you can not get lost if you walk straight ahead since it is a long loop trail. Various Viewing areas are available where you can see the monument from different angles. There was a small alcove with a hole which a duo of climbers were trying to sneak and climb up the monument. They went up a few feet before coming back down so they would not be caughtTowards the end of the trail you can visit the sculptors studio here you can see the mountain sculpture and the original model of the carving. Anyway, after all that walking you may be tired. You will be looped back to your starting point where you can relax and shop at the gift shop. You can get something to eat at the cafeteria or get an ice cream to cool you down if it is a hot day.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009