on July 22, 2012
Mount Rushmore was originally named for an attorney from New York named Charles Rushmore back in 1885. When sculptor Gutzon Borglum envisioned the granite peak with its memorials to four of America's greatest Presidents, it was a vision that would take many years to complete due to a number of setbacks, most notably were the financial concerns.The memorial was dedicated in 1927 with the commencement of work on the first head to be completed - George Washington. After much effort and the financial support of the US Congress, the head was finished and dedicated in 1930. Subsequent profiles were completed over the next several years: Jefferson in 1936, Lincoln in 1937 and Roosevelt in 1939.To read the US Park Service brochure on Mount Rushmore, one might get the impression that the federal government's financial support of this project was the first "economic stimulus" program in America. President Calvin Coolidge said in his 1938 appearance before Congress "Pride in country - and the fact that public works created good jobs and good will" which resulted in the channeling of $836,000 of the estimated total cost of $1 million to complete the memorial.The sheer size of the granite monument is remarkable. Visitors have the opportunity to take the "Presidential Trail" along the "Avenue of Flags" from the visitor center to the foot of the landmark. There is also a museum featuring a short (12-15 minute film), an amphitheater and a cafe. In the evening, visitors are treated to a lighting show at dusk, which can be seen for miles in the surrounding Black Hills. Hours vary throughout the year, so check with the visitor center or on their website for further details.One of the best vantage points to see Mount Rushmore without actually going to the monument site, is the Iron Mountain Road that connects Custer State Park with Hill City (where the monument is located). Many people do as I did on this trip and drive this road in order to capture photographs of the perfectly framed Mount Rushmore while passing through one of the three tunnels that are part of this roadway.The general admission hours are 8:00am to 10:00pm in the summer, with reduced hours during the other seasons. While there is no admission fee to enter Mount Rushmore, there is a mandatory $11 parking fee for everyone (including NPS Annual Pass holders). There is no lodging or camping on the immediate grounds at Mount Rushmore, but visitors can find a wide assortment of options in neighboring Hill City or Rapid City. Additionally, Custer State Park has several lodging and camping options as well.
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