Mount Rushmore National Memorial – A Photo Essay

“Let us place there, carved high, as close to heaven as we can, the words of our leaders, their faces, to show posterity what manner of men they were. Then breathe a prayer that these records will endure until the wind and the rain alone shall wear them away.” Sculptor Gutzon Borglum

America’s presidential history is alive in stone. Majestic figures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, surrounded by the beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota, tell the story of the birth, growth, development and preservation of this country. From the history of the first inhabitants to the diversity of America today, Mount Rushmore brings visitors face to face with the rich heritage we all share.

Sculptor Gutzon Borglum created the sculpture’s design and oversaw the project’s execution from 1927 to 1941 with the help of his son, Lincoln. The memorial park covers 1,278 acres and is 5,725 feet above sea level. Each president was originally to be depicted from head to waist. Lack of funding forced construction to end in 1941. Approximately 400 workers sculpted the colossal 60 foot high carvings.

Ponderosa pines dominate the dry, rocky landscape. The Black Hills take their name from the illusion of darkness the pines create when viewed from a distance. A half mile nature trail known as the Presidential Trail circuits the property and offers closeup views from beneath the faces. An evening lighting ceremony is held in the outdoor amphitheater nightly during summer.

The presidential faces on Mt. Rushmore dominate the landscape of the Black Hills. They can be seen from such far away locations as the Iron Mountain Highway in Custer State Park. The back of the monument can be seen from the summit of nearby Black Elk Peak, at 7,242′, the tallest mountain in South Dakota.

My brother and I couldn’t decide whether we wanted to grapple with the crowd at this very touristy location. One day after a hike, (on May 25, 2018) we still had the whole afternoon available, so we said, “why not.” Yes, it was touristy. Yes, it was crowded. But, we’re glad we went. The memorial grounds are very well done, and the whole place is truly a proper memorial to American presidential history.



This post was created by Jeff Clark. Please feel free to use the sharing icons below, or add your thoughts to the comments. Pack it in, pack it out. Preserve the past. Respect other hikers. Let nature prevail. Leave no trace.

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