How many of us have seen this monument in several film scenes or, for the lucky ones, in real life?
It isn’t just a monument, it is the famous Mount Rushmore National Monument, a rock sculpture complex located in the US state of South Dakota, on the Black Hills mountain range and is made up of huge granite blocks.
Originally it was called by an Indian tribe “The Six Grandparents”, then, during an expedition in 1885, the mountain was renamed Rushmore, in honor of a prominent New York lawyer and businessman.
At first, the Rushmore carving project was undertaken to increase tourism in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. The initial idea was to carve the Black Hills Needles but in the end, they opted for Mount Rushmore, not only because it is bigger, but also because of the maximum sun exposure.
400 workers sculpted the colossal 18-meter-high carvings representing four famous US presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.
It was a way to represent the first 150 years of American history: these presidents were taken as symbols of the birth, growth, development, and conservation of the United States respectively.
Originally, it was planned that the figures would be sculpted from head to waist, but for lack of funds, it was decided to make only the faces.
The chief carver of the mountain was Luigi del Bianco, an Italian naturalized American craftsman, and sculptor, who was chosen to work on this project thanks to his extraordinary ability to engrave emotions and personality in his sculpted portraits.
In a canyon behind the carved faces is a chamber cut into the rock, made in 1998, containing a vault with the text of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the biographies of the four presidents, and the history of the United States.
Mount Rushmore quickly became one of the best-known symbols of the United States and has appeared in works of fiction as well as in several motion pictures.
Today it is an important tourist destination, attracting more than 2 million tourists a year.
The park is open all year, weather conditions permitting, with times that change depending on the period:
- March to September: 5 am to 11 pm
- October to March: 5 am to 9 pm
The best way to reach Mount Rushmore National Monument is with your own rental car, considering the fact that there is no type of public transport to the area.
There are two visitor centers that can help you better understand the history of the monument and the activities that can be carried out inside:
- Information Center: it is located near the entrance. Here you will find the rangers who will respond to your requests and curiosities and you will also find the program of the day’s activities on display, as well as the inevitable bookstore.
- Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center: located just below the large panoramic terrace, here is a real museum that traces the history of the place through a permanent exhibition and a documentary video lasting about 20 minutes.
It would be a very nice trip to enter American culture and heritage, visiting and admiring the four important presidents who made USA’s history.