My dad and I went to Mount Rushmore National Memorial on two occasions. Our first exposure was when we first arrived in the Black Hills. Once we’d checked-in to our KOA we headed down to the street to glimpse the four presidents.
Upon making it up the hill, we entered the parking structure, which they had down to a science, with 5 levels and alternating them so they wouldn’t get too full. Exiting the parking structure you get to the entrance of the Memorial with a Visitor Center and an Information Center, one on each side. Just past this you get to the Avenue of the Flags where you can see Mount Rushmore.
It’s crazy how large these sculptures are.
During this first visit we toured the visitor center and the information center. We also watched a video on the history and construction of Mount Rushmore.
A monumental sculpture in the Black Hills was originally suggested in 1923 by Doane Robinson. About two years later, a carving is authorized and they have a flag ceremony. Gutzon Borglum selected the presidents to be carved. Carving began in 1927. Gutzon’s son, Lincoln finished the carving. Took 14 years to be carved. Washington was dedicated in July 1930. Jefferson was dedicated in August 1936. Lincoln was dedicated September 1937. Lastly Roosevelt was dedicated in July of 1939.
There is a Hall of Records at Mount Rushmore…. kind of…. Borglum had an idea for a grand plan. With his death and having the end of construction coinciding with World War II the plan ended with a very large hole in the mountain hidden behind Lincoln. In 1998 they did put records into the floor in this room. The purpose is for others, thousands of years from now. Inside the vault are tablets that explain why each president was chosen, how the carving happened as well as a history of the USA.
- Gutzon Borglum is also known for Lincoln’s Bust
- 95% of granite was removed with dynamite
- Each president represents a part of the nation
- Washington – the birth of the nation
- Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army
- Inaugurated at Federal Hall in NYC
- Jefferson – the expansion of the nation
- Responsible for Louisiana Purchase
- Drafted the Declaration of Independence
- Roosevelt – the development of the nation
- Influenced construction of Panama Canal
- Nobel Peace Prize recipient
- Naturalist & friend of John Muir
- Lincoln – the preservation of the nation
- Preserved the union during the Civil War
- Issued the Emancipation Proclamation
- Said “A house divided against itself cannot stand”
- Washington – the birth of the nation
PEOPLE I MET:
On the bus rides to and from the KOA we met a few families (some of which got my information and are following along my journey). One family was Chef Gabe and his two daughters. Another family was from Oregon that consisted of a dad, his mom and his two daughters; my dad of course had plenty to talk about with Oregon in common.
Our second time to the memorial was two days later for the lighting ceremony. We took a bus from the KOA to the memorial and had plenty of time before it began. Prior to the ceremony we went on the Presidential Trail Loop. It is a .6 mile loop from the visitor center that gets a good angle of each president.
Lincoln and Washington, in general, have good angles from just about everywhere. Here is a closeup shot of them.
Below is the best angle of Roosevelt.
This picture is from the Jefferson lookout point.
After finishing the loop we got seats in the amphitheater and waited for the ceremony to begin.
It started with a ranger coming out and introducing himself to the crowd and what we would be seeing that night. He didn’t warn how moving it would be or how emotional it would get me.
Once the movie ended they asked for any past or present military or at least a representative from every military family to go on stage. We listened to the Star Spangled Banner and they removed the flag from the flag pole. It was all very moving and with the four presidents looking over us while this happened, it was quite spectacular.
A quote from the NPS-Mount Rushmore site, “One of the most important gifts we can give our visitors at Mount Rushmore Memorial is an understanding and love for our nation’s history and cultures, and an appreciation of the importance of caring for that legacy.” They succeeded at this and beyond and I think every American needs to go to Mount Rushmore at some point in their life.
Last but not least, the picture of my Jr. Ranger badge and souvenirs!
NEXT TIME at Mount Rushmore: I think I did most to do at Mount Rushmore, but I wouldn’t mind visiting again. As I perfect my photography skills I could go again and take better pictures than I did.