Mount rushmore hero

Mount Rushmore 'Merica!

After a long drive all the way across Wyoming, we reached South Dakota. Our preconceptions of South Dakota were "boring", "flat" and "featureless". We quickly discovered that regardless of South Dakota's reputation, they do a great job of proving everyone wrong.

south dakota landscape

Not boring or flat or featureless

south dakota airstream
mount rushmore highway 2

We stayed at a sleepy campground outside the casino-laden town of Deadwood, which lies on the edge of the Black Hills. We found the thick pine forests, rolling hills and exposed rocky bluffs to be relaxing (not to mention the complete lack of internet reception).

south dakota campsite

Evenings at the campground

But we weren't in Deadwood to gamble, we were there to visit Mount Rushmore. It's one of those iconic American monuments that can't be missed when on a Great American Road Trip. As The Democratic Travelers, we were obliged to see it. Plus, it had seven votes.

mount rushmore village

Keystone, SD: a tourist trap if there ever was one

mount rushmore village 2

Aside from the ridiculously touristy Disneyland town you have to drive through to get to the actual monument, I was surprised at how impressive I found Mount Rushmore to be.

mount rushmore corridor
mount rushmore amphitheater

Sure, it looks small when you're standing on one of the many pavilions overlooking the carved granite faces. But after reading the history, watching the ten-minute film on the process of it's creation (definitely watch the film!) and learning the reasons why the faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln were permanently carved into the Black Hills, I was feeling mighty patriotic.

mount rushmore 1
mount rushmore vertical

Some of the most awesome facts about Mount Rushmore:

  • The original idea was to sculpt the Needles into full-body statues of Lewis and Clark, Red Cloud and Buffalo Bill as a tourism-booster for South Dakota.
  • Construction began in 1927 and ended in 1941.
  • The sculptor, Danish-American Gutzon Borglum, died six months before the monument was completed. His son, Lincoln, completed the monument after his death.
mount rushmore prototype

A look inside Borglum's studio

  • Borglum planned on depicting each president from head-to-waist, but due to WWII and a lack of funding, they were left as they are now.
  • 400 people worked to create Mount Rushmore and no one died!
  • Each head is 60 feet tall - about as tall as a six-story building.
  • George Washington's nose is 21 feet tall.
  • 90% of the mountain was carved using dynamite.
mount rushmore soda machine

Special thanks to Hector (who suggested Go see the 2nd-most iconic monument in the country (Statue of Liberty being 1st).) for making this blog post possible!

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