Happy President’s Day everyone! In honor of the holiday, we wanted to share this stop along the road at one of America's most celebrated landmarks: Mount Rushmore National Memorial. It sits about half way between Badlands National Park and Wind Cave National Park on the western side of South Dakota.
For those who don’t know the details of Mount Rushmore off hand, here is a quick and dirty guide. Carved into granite batholith* rock in the Black Hills is the likeness of four of America’s greatest presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. It was sculpted by Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum, during a 14-year span of time concluding in 1941. Under their guidance, 400 workers removed more than 450,000 tons of rock to carve out the 60-foot high formations. The idea was conceived of in the 1920s by Jonah LeRoy "Doane" Robinson, a state historian, who wanted to bring more tourism into South Dakota. Robinson’s idea proved to be a success—today more than 3-million visitors head to Mount Rushmore annually to see what is known as the “Shrine of Democracy.”
We arrived early in the morning to a thick blanket of fog that covered the veneer of our president’s faces… about 30 minutes later, before the sun came up and prior to hoards of visitors entering the gates, the fog lifted—only for a couple of minutes, and long enough so that we could capture the scene before the fog rolled back in. Even that short meeting allowed us time to stand in awe of Rushmore... it is place that is really exciting to see in person. How sculptures of that size could be created at such a massive scale and endure for such a long period of time is absolutely astounding and wonderful to see in its rocky flesh. Happy President's Day everyone!
*A batholith is large-scale plutonic rock formed from cooled magma from deep within the Earth's crust. Half Dome in Yosemite is another example of a batholith.