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September 27, 2023: The Four Heads

Today is the day!!! We are going to see Mount Rushmore in the morning and a program in the evening that ends with the National Anthem and lighting up the four heads.

Mt Rushmore was conceived in the 1920’s to attract car tourists. The mood of the country was tense between north and south as a holdover from the Civil War, and the east coast was at odds with the west coast. It was to be a symbol of hope.

Doan Robinson had the vision of the likenesses of Jim Bridger, Kitt Carson, etc., people involved in Westward expansion. He saw Stone Mountain and hired Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of that carving.

If it was western heroes, people would not cross the Mississippi to see it. So they settled on presidents to have more of a national interest.

It is carved out of granite. Gutzon Borglum wanted it to be high and facing the sun so it would be illuminated by natural light.

The peak had already been named Mount Rushmore for Charles E. Rushmore, a New York City attorney who was in the Black Hills working for a mining company in 1884.

Local, ordinary folks were the ones who carved the mountain sculpture, working on it from 1927 to 1941, but there were only 6 to 7 years of actual carving time. Delays were caused by funding or winter. Borglum died before it was done, but his son Lincoln finished it. Then they quit “while they were a head.” HaHa! The original version was to be waist length, and the model was changed nine times. There were 30 workers at a time. They used dynamite, chipping, honeycomb and bumping.

There certainly was controversy with the Native Americans about the desecration of a sacred mountain.

Washington was sculpted first, then Lincoln. Jefferson was included because of his part in gaining independence from Britain and his purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France which included the area that became South Dakota.

Jefferson exceeded the power of the Constitution when he made the purchase. The Constitution did not specifically grant the federal government the authority to acquire more territory. But in the end he was supported by Congress and the Supreme Court.

Jefferson’s gaze is higher and angled up. Jefferson’s face was started to the left of Washington, but there was not enough carvable rock. They blasted the partially-finished face, and put his face where it is today. At the dedication of Jefferson’s face, Roosevelt was the president. When it was over, Roosevelt said, “Where are you gonna put Teddy?”

The last dedication was for Theodore Roosevelt. He was a personal friend of Borglum. Many people didn’t think that enough time had passed to warrant putting his face on Mount Rushmore. It was the only night dedication with fireworks. There were 12,000 attendees, and the Lakota Indians were present.

In the end, they had removed nine and a half million tons of rock. The workers had to ascend 741 stairs. In the early days, it would take 30 minutes to go up 40 stories. After they got used to it, it took them only 8 minutes.

Rapid City is called the City of Presidents. There are bronze statues on each of the four corners on several blocks downtown. Rob posed with each one. He looks very presidential. These photos are in no certain order.

The Avenue of Flags at Mount Rushmore represents the 50 states and 5 territories. Can you name the territories? They are American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

One of the park Rangers gave a short talk about freedom of speech. During the speech a rowdy man heckled him by saying, “Ranger Dave, we didn’t come here to listen to you. Let’s get on with the show.” It kind of put a damper on the presentation. But, I guess that you can expect that when you encourage freedom of speech.

It was a beautiful clear night. This photo was taken before it was lighted.
They asked the veterans and active military to retire the colors.

Oliver Miller for President

There will be a fifth head, my grandson, Oliver who was born on Presidents Day. It’s a sign, and he looks the part.
Photo manipulation credit:
Tech genius, Amy Street

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