We have all had our fair share of education about the iconic governments that the United States of America have had. We hear the names that shaped the future of this nation in our history books, on TV, in debates and current affairs. We find out about the leaders who mattered more and the leaders who didn’t matter as much, no matter what the case is we do see that they are remembered.
But never has a leadership been so deeply carved in onto the world as it is in the case of the infamous Mount Rushmore National Memorial. When I say carved in, the phrase must be understood literally when talking about Mount Rushmore. Quite a few of us know about it, most of us have seen it somewhere in a movie or randomly on TV – sometimes around the 4th of July or maybe in some other patriotic shows. But the real beauty of this sculpture unveils itself when you are seeing it with a naked eye. We are talking about the place that represents the first 130 years of United State’s independence. We are talking about the mountain that has been carved to pay homage to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is situated on the face of Mount Rushmore near the city of Keystone of Pennington County, South Dakota. The sculptures basically are the heads of the four presidents each one of them being approximately 60 feet tall. The whole sculpture is built in a vast area of nearly 1300 acres. Historically, the idea was set in place for two reasons; one, to promote tourism in the area of Black Hills that face the monument, and secondly to commemorate the four presidents.
The Danish-American artists Guzton Borglum and Lincoln Borglum designed the whole project and made it a reality on March 3, 1925 though the memorial was officially declared complete in 1941. The whole project was funded by the federal government, thanks to Senator Peter Norbeck. The creation itself was a masterpiece. It took both blasting as well as carving to finally give it the shape that it has. More than 400 workers hung 500 hundred feet above the ground on steel cables and worked those jackhammers away for multiple decades.
For those of you who are interested in paying it a visit, trust me when I say it, these four faces are not just what you see. The whole site is governed by the National Park Service and there is a Visitors’ Center, a Museum known as the Hall Records as well as a Presidential Trail that takes you up close and personal with the four presidents’ faces. Reaching this place will be most convenient from the Rapid City Regional Airport, but if you are a roadster you might want to take the route through Keystone on the Highway 385. The visit itself is free apart from a parking ticket that will set you back a little over ten bucks.
When you are there, park the car, go up the Avenue of Flags; a trail that is lined up with state flags – one for each state in the United States of America. At the end of the avenue, a terrace has been created for the viewing pleasure of the visitors; it’s called the Grad View Terrace. You can sit there, feel the warmth of the sun reflect upon the creation while you sip on a drink and then decide what you want to do next. If the place finds its way to you, you could go further to the Hall of Records. The hall holds titanium vaults preserving the whole story of Mount Rushmore. You could also learn why the four presidents were chosen and while you are at it, it could be educational in terms of learning about the American history too.
The Ranger Walk is led by a ranger who would enlighten you about the cultural history of Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, as well as a walk around the base of the mountain. Another feature would be the Sculptor’s Studio Talk which is educational in terms of the art of carving, in summers you get to learn about the techniques used in carving along with the tools that are used. An Evening Program is an outdoor activity that focuses more on the patriotic element of the sculpture. Rangers feed you valuable information about the presidents and the US history and later show the film Freedom: America’s Lasting Legacy. The memorial is also lit up at night.
The Place is unique and can give you a sense of appreciation towards those historic figures and the artists who managed to carve their images in the mountains as well as in the minds of the visitors.