6 Things You Never Knew About Mount Rushmore

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)
6 Things You Never Knew About Mount Rushmore

Western South Dakota isn’t lacking in incredible sights. There are the Badlands and the Needles of the Black Hills, and those are just the starters. But the highlight of any trip to this land of Native American history and odd rock outcroppings is a visit to Mount Rushmore National Memorial where giant carved heads of four former presidents keep vigil.

The majestic sculpture celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2016, though its stony faces remain much the same as they did when its construction was completed in 1941. The 60-foot-high granite monument features the towering head portraits of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Here are a few things about Mount Rushmore you might not know.

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Presidential Images Were Not the First Choice

Presidential Images Were Not the First Choice

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Mount Rushmore was the brainchild of South Dakota state historian Doane Robinson who was moved to memorialize and carve iconic historical figures into a mountainside. He wanted to promote tourism to a region of the state that was otherwise mostly ignored and came up with the idea of the massive project in 1923. Robinson’s initial plans did not include the political figures admired at the monument today.

Robinson thought a carved tribute featuring Western heroes such as Lewis and Clark, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Lakota leader Chief Red Cloud was the perfect choice for the location. He enlisted the help of renowned American sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who convinced him the monument would be better received if it had a more national focus. They settled on four presidents who they felt best represented the country.

It Was Built Using a Lot of Dynamite

It Was Built Using a Lot of Dynamite

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Visitors to Mount Rushmore stand in awe of its grandeur and scale. Little do they know of the enormity of Robinson and Borglum’s pet undertaking in real-time. The project employed over 400 men and took fourteen years to complete. Most of the men were miners who had come to South Dakota in search of the promised gold in the Black Hills.

An incredible 450,000 tons of rock had to be removed for the project. It was decided the best way to do this was with dynamite, so 90 percent of the monument was carved in this way. Once the blasting was completed, the finer details of the sculpture were attended to. This entailed lowering finishers down the 500-foot face of the mountainside in bosun chairs. It was dangerous work, yet thankfully, no one was seriously injured or killed.

It Has Been Known by Several Names

It Has Been Known by Several Names

Credit: Sharon Day/ Shutterstock

The mountain containing the carving has been known by several different names throughout the years. The Sioux called it Six Grandfathers after the earth, sky, and four cardinal directions. American settlers in the area referred to it as Cougar Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Slaughterhouse Mountain, or Keystone Cliffs. It wasn’t until 1930 that the beloved icon became officially named and recognized as Mount Rushmore.

The mountain was actually named after New York attorney Charles E. Rushmore, who passed through on his way back from a business trip. When he found out the mountain had no official designation, he thought it would be a good idea to name it after him. The wealthy investor eventually got his way.

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Mount Rushmore Is a Controversial Monument

Mount Rushmore Is a Controversial Monument

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The Lakota Sioux were promised an area that included the Black Hills in perpetuity by the U.S. government in the Treaty of 1868, but forever only lasted until gold was discovered in the 1870s. The land was subsequently taken back by force, adding to the ongoing conflicts of the time between the government and the Plains Indians. In South Dakota specifically, the Battle of Wounded Knee was a grievous defeat for the Native Americans.

The Sioux still consider the Black Hills area as sacred ground. To some, the monument represents the oppression faced by the Native Americans. Visitors to South Dakota can pay homage to the history of the area by also visiting the Crazy Horse Memorial, a still-in-progress sculpture that, once completed, will be the world’s largest sculpture at 641 feet long and 563 feet tall.

The Monument Once Had Its Own Baseball Team

The Monument Once Had Its Own Baseball Team

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Gutzon Borglum’s son Lincoln, who also worked on the project, was a big baseball fan. He socialized with the daily workers by talking baseball and sharing friendly banter while keeping up with the scores on the radio. Their common love for the sport prompted the Borglums to organize an amateur team. Workers became vetted for their ability to handle a baseball bat as well as a jackhammer.

The local community enthusiastically cheered the newly-formed baseball team called the Rushmore Drillers. The team was good enough to make it to the semi-finals of the State Amateur Baseball Tournament in the late 1930s. Even though they placed third, Borglum hosted both the Drillers and their opponents at his home for dinner and more sports talk. The team disbanded when work on the monument was completed.

It Has a Secret Room

It Has a Secret Room

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Borglum wanted to add a secret room behind the monument where important documents and historical memorabilia could be stored. The so-called Hall of Records would be accessed by an 800-foot granite staircase with a giant bronze eagle over the door leading to the secret room.

Only part of the tunnel had been blasted when the funds ran out in 1939. The idea of a Hall of Records dwindled following Borglum’s death in 1941 and the official declaration of the monument’s completion. It was rejuvenated again in 1998 when the National Park Service finished what was started long ago and installed Mount Rushmore’s best-known secret. Items of interest continue to be placed there for future discovery.

3 Strange Facts About U.S. Monuments

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Strange Facts About U.S. Monuments

The United States is a proud country, home to some breathtaking monuments that represent cornerstone events in our history. Many of these monuments are indelible parts of our culture, but few of us know their strange histories or the events that made them what they are today. Let’s review a few strange facts about these monuments you might not know.

The Washington Monument Is Multi-Colored

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Located in Washington, D.C., the monolithic Washington Monument is one of the most iconic monuments in U.S. history. Its construction began in 1848 as a tribute to George Washington’s legendary leadership throughout the American Revolution and ran for 36 years until it was finally completed in 1884.

When we think about the Washington Monument, most of us imagine a huge, pearl-white tower reaching upward into the sky — but did you know that the monument is actually multi-colored?

It’s true. Look at it and see for yourself. Although the base of the obelisk is light gray, you’ll notice a slight color shift midway up the tower (around the 150’ mark). Here, the color changes into a deeper, darker gray. This discoloration was a result of delayed construction in 1854, when political turmoil forced builders to separate construction into multiple phases. Although the initial foundation was laid in 1854, the second phase didn’t begin until 1876.

The second phase used a different type of granite than the initial base, which is why the color changes as you climb the tower. But given that the Civil War had just ended, most people had bigger problems to worry about.

Mount Rushmore Was Meant to Be Bigger

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Mount Rushmore is the world-famous monument carved into the Black Hills of Keystone, South Dakota, featuring four of America’s most revered presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. Each of the presidents’ faces are an impressive 60’ tall, though according to early records from its construction, the current monument is only a small fraction of what was planned.

Reports suggest that there were several other ideas for Mount Rushmore that were scrapped, such as the addition of their torsos, written script, and a museum-type room behind Lincoln’s head. Of course, none of these additions made it into Mount Rushmore’s final design. Funding was an ongoing problem, and by the time the initial work began, the builders were limited to chiseling the faces in granite.

The Statue of Liberty Was Bombed by the Germans

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Remember the days when tourists at the Statue of Liberty could walk inside the torch? Those days are long gone, though few people today remember why. Its closure is often thought to be a result of natural wear and tear that made the torch unsafe for tourists, but this is just a myth — and the actual story is much more interesting.

According to historical records, the Statue of Liberty was the victim of a WWI-era bombing campaign instigated by German soldiers. As the story goes, the Germans sought to destroy caches of weapons and munitions that were scheduled to be delivered to Allied forces in 1916. These munitions were located in New York Harbor—the same site as the Statue of Liberty, which had been dedicated just 30 years prior.

The Germans were successful. After midnight on July 30, a series of fires and small bombs set a few barges ablaze in the harbor, which caused a chain reaction of explosions from over 50 tons of TNT. The explosion and its accompanying shockwaves destroyed the nearby area, sending fragments and debris flying through the air. The shockwaves were so powerful that some of this debris made it as high as the Statue of Liberty’s torch, which was damaged by the shrapnel and subsequently closed.

Of course, it would eventually be replaced—but with a new torch that visitors couldn’t enter. So, you can thank the Germans for that one.

Spearfish South Dakota: Great Sioux Nation: The Blood And The Gold

Spearfish Dakota and Blood

What an odd name, ye think of me

But for a lack of good or even bad luck

Maybe my name would be more renowned

In the books of our country’s history books

Black Hills Dakota, land of lore, gold and blood

Deadwood you know, Hickok lying in his own

Crazy Horse, the one who cried when bees touched his blood

The Seventh went down in history, their sins paid with their own

 

My feet have always been planted in the center of timber and gold

All around me is glory and fame and the dried blood of many

The great Sioux Nation and the tears that they paid

Not even the grade school books tell the truth of our story

Come visit Custer’s Last Stand they got what they deserved

Rapid City a main gateway to the great northwest

Four faces carved in stone, a true Rushmore Monument

I stand true to the blood sweat and tears who bore me

Of my name I am very proud though white men gave it

Sturgis now rumbles right next to me loud and proud

Spearfish South Dakota, Black Hills magic then and now

Spearfish South Dakota: Great Sioux Nation: The Blood And The Gold

Spearfish Dakota and Blood

What an odd name, ye think of me

But for a lack of good or even bad luck

Maybe my name would be more prevalent

In the books of our country’s history

Black Hills Dakota, land of lore, gold and blood

Deadwood you know, Hickok lying in his own

Crazy Horse, the one who cried when bees touched his blood

The Seventh went down in history, their sins paid with their own

 

My feet have always been planted in the center of timber and gold

All around me is glory and fame and the dried blood of many

The great Sioux Nation and the tears that they paid

Not even the grade school books tell the truth of our story

Come visit Custer’s Last Stand they got what they deserved

Rapid City a main gateway to the great northwest

Four faces carved in stone, a true Rushmore Monument

I stand true to the blood sweat and tears who bore me

Of my name I am very proud though white men gave it

Sturgis now rumbles right next to me loud and proud

Spearfish South Dakota, Black Hills magic then and now