Mount Rushmore Construction Pictures: History, Facts, & Trivia About When It Was Finished

The construction work on Mount Rushmore was completed on 31 October 1941 after 14 years of work. The colossal carved mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota, just outside the city of Keystone, has become a symbol of America and an attraction that welcomes more than three million visitors through its gates each year. Here are some fun and interesting facts about the Mount Rushmore construction process.

Mount Rushmore as a Tourist Trap

Let's face it: South Dakota doesn't have much to offer. In the 1920s, South Dakota state historian, Doane Robinson, was looking for a way to attract visitors to the state. (Obviously, Corn Palace was not the nationwide draw he expected.) Robinson consulted a sculptor named Gutzon Borglum for suggestions, and he presented his audacious idea to a committee of some of South Dakota's most prominent business and political leaders. who approved his plan to carve the statues of four former US presidents into the granite face of a mountain. Federal funding for the project soon followed, and work began on the project on October 4, 1927.

A Dangerous Attempt

Each of the four faces on Mount Rushmore is about 60 feet tall, perched on top of a 5,725-foot mountain. Most of the work---about 90% of it---was done with dynamite. It was only after the rough contours were eroded from the rock that workers came to smooth and chisel out the details of the carving. About 400 workers had to climb 700 steps daily to get to the workplace, which can be treacherous, as weather conditions vary greatly. On some summer days, the sun was unreliable, with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, while winter days were cold and foggy. The workers did their work sitting on bosun chairs, seats hanging from 3/8 inch steel cables about an inch thick on the side of the mountain. Hanging workers and dynamite sound like a dangerous combination, yet no one was killed during Mount Rushmore's 14-year construction.

Mount Rushmore Hides a Secret Chamber

During the design phase of construction on Mount Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum planned to build a large chamber inside Granite Mountain. He envisioned this chamber, which he called the Hall of Records, as a repository of important American documents and artifacts. He wanted the entrance to be built on the northern wall of the small valley running behind the face, and he designed a major staircase carved in granite to provide easy access to the Hall of Records. Unfortunately, the project lacked the finances to complete the chamber, and only part of the tunnel was built. In 1998, Borglum's dream of using the space as a storehouse finally came true when a box containing 16 tablets made of porcelain enamel was placed at the end of the tunnel. Together, the tablets tell the story of Mount Rushmore, who carved it and why, and the reason for selecting the four presidents.

Does Mount Rushmore belong to the Sioux Indians?

Since construction began on Mount Rushmore, it has received some pushback from the region's native Sioux tribes. Nomadic Sioux Indians lived on lands stretching from the Dakota to Minnesota, and in the 1800s, they clashed with European settlers who came to the area. The conflict was resolved only in 1868 with the signing of the Treaty of Fort Laramie, which granted Sioux ownership of the Black Hills and hunting rights in South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. However, when gold was discovered in the Black Hills, the US government withdrew from the treaty. He forced the Sioux out, and to add insult to injury, he named the Sioux mountain Six Grandfathers after New York attorney Charles Rushmore. The legal dispute over the actual ownership of Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills continues to this day.

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