August 2019

Surprising Facts About Mt. Rushmore, Part 2

Mount Rushmore

Here are some more interesting facts about Mt. Rushmore to follow last month's article.

  • The mountain's official name came from a New York lawyer who was surveying gold claims in the area in 1885.
  • Charles E. Rushmore asked his guide, William Challis, “What's the name of that mountain?” Challis is said to have replied, “It's never had one…till now…we’ll call the damn thing Rushmore.”
  • In 1930, the United States Board on Geographic Names officially recognized it as Mount Rushmore.
  • The carving of Mount Rushmore began in 1927 and finished in 1941.
  • The actual carving was done by a team of over 400 men.
  • Remarkably, no one died during construction.
  • The men who worked on the mountain were miners who had come to the Black Hills looking for gold.
  • Although they weren’t artists, they did know how to use dynamite and jackhammers.
  • The Borglums did hire one artist, Korczak Ziolkowski, to work as an assistant on the mountain. But after 19 days and a heated argument with Lincoln Borglum, Ziolkowski left the project. He would later begin another mountain carving nearby, Crazy Horse Memorial, which today is the world's largest mountain sculpture in progress.
  • The image of the sculpture was mapped onto the mountain using an intricate “pointing machine” designed by Borglum.
  • It was based on a 1:12 scale model of the final sculpture.
  • 90% of the mountain was carved with dynamite, and more than 450,000 tons of rock was removed.
  • Afterwards, fine carving was done to create a surface about as smooth as a concrete sidewalk.
  • The drillers and finishers were lowered down the 500-foot face of the mountain in bosun chairs held by 3/8-inch-thick steel cables.
  • Workers at the top of the mountain would hand crank a winch to raise and lower the drillers.
  • If they went too fast, the person in the bosun chair would be dragged up the mountain on their face.
  • Young boys (known as call boys) were hired to sit on the side of the mountain to shout messages back and forth to the operators to speed up or slow down.
  • Each president's face is 60 feet high.
  • The faces appear in the order: Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Lincoln.
  • Jefferson was originally intended to be on Washington's right.
  • After nearly two years of work on Jefferson, the rock was found to be unsuitable and the partially completed face was “erased” from the mountainside using dynamite.
  • Washington's face was completed in 1934, Jefferson's in 1936.
  • Lincoln was finished in 1937 and Roosevelt in 1939 In 1937, a bill was introduced to Congress to add the image of women's rights leader Susan B. Anthony to the mountain.
  • Congress then passed a bill requiring only the heads that had already been started be completed.
  • In 1938, Gutzon Borglum secretly began blasting a Hall of Records in the mountain behind the heads.
  • The Hall of Records was meant to be a vault containing the history of the nation and vital documents like the Constitution.
  • Congress found out about the project and demanded Borglum use the federal funding for the faces, not the Hall of Records.
  • Gutzon reluctantly stopped working on the hall in 1939, but vowed to complete it.
  • That same year, the last face — of Theodore Roosevelt — was completed.
  • Sculptor Gutzon Borglum died in March of 1941, leaving the completion of the monument to his son Lincoln.
  • The carving was originally meant to include the bodies of the presidents down to their waists.
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