A National Symbol

 

What do George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln have in common?

Mount Rushmore

They are all carvings of past presidents that are now in the Black Hills National Forest of South Dakota.

Gutzon Borglum , a sculptor, began drilling in 1927. It took him 14 years to complete the carvings at a cost of 1 million dollars. ($1.000,000.00)

Why did he choose these 4 leaders?

He chose these 4 leaders because they brought the country from colonial times to the 20th century. He chose Washington because he was Commander of the Revolutionary Army and the first President.

He chose Jefferson because he was the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third President and wanted people to travel west.

He chose Roosevelt because he was the 26th President, promoted construction of the Panama Canal and pushed for conservation and business changes.

He chose Lincoln because he was the 16th Preseident, and wanted to free the slaves.

How did he transfer the models to the mountains?

Borglum's answer was his "pointing machine". The models were sized at a simple ratio of 1:12. One inch on the foot of the model would equal one foot on the mountain.

How were the faces carved?

The only techniques that the carvers could use was to remove the stone. No material could be added. Borglum at first ruled out dynamite. He quickly changed his mind. the rock was so hard that blasting was the only practical way to remove huge granite stones.

How were the finishing touches added?

After blasting, the features were shaped by workers suspended by cables in swing seats called Bosun chairs. First they used drills to honeycomb the granite with closely spaced holes to nearly the depth of the final surface. Excess rock was then chiseled off. A blacksmith sharpened hundreds of drill bits each day that dulled quickly on the rock. Afterwards the men "bumped" away drill holes with hammers to create a smooth, white surface. From a distance, these shapes make the eyes sparkle and bring the Presidents to life.

Can you name these presidents?

 

 I hoped that you have learned something about Mount Rushmore.

Return to the main menu to learn more about the symbols.