Growing up just a half hour away from Mt. Rushmore, I can tell you that the beauty and grandeur is as great as the hype about it is. Though as a Rapid City native I have not visited the monument as often as one would guess, really I can count on my hands and feet the number of times I have been there (that I can really remember). To me, it is one of those places in which, less is more. I have a greater respect for the monument now that I am older and not living within its shadow.
To think that 75 years ago, the Mt. Rushmore the world knows today, was but an idea a large group was working to cultivate. That Gutzon Borglum and his team of carvers began work on the face of Washington. The project was in the works from 1927 when carving began to 1941, when what is now the finished project was unveiled, after the death of Borglum. Throughout the years of carving, many made journeys to see the monuments work in progress, including two US presidents Calvin Coolidge and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Today the monument attracts visitors from all over the globe. They are amazed by the monumental size of the sculptures, and by the beauty of the visitor’s center which gives an abundance of information on the monument. One of the prominent reasons for visiting Mt. Rushmore would be the lighting ceremony held at the end of every night. This is a major part of the monument and during the ceremony, park rangers leading the ceremony ask that any and all former and active duty service men and women take center stage. This part of the ceremony is the most moving point and as each member of the military explains who they are and which war they were a part of, there is little to no noise as this is a moment of thanks to those in service. Another great reason to visit Mt. Rushmore is the ice cream, or so I’ve been told.
The biggest lore surrounding the monument is the famed Hall of Records that is located behind the head of Lincoln. The room does exist though it is not found behind the head of Lincoln but off to the side of the monument.
Within the University of South Dakota’s Archives and Special Collections, there are 19 collections that contain information regarding Mt. Rushmore, and the process in which it took for the monument to be built, including papers between those who helped fund, sculpt, and shape the monument and visitors center in the modern beauty that it is today.
If you would like to know more about those involved and the process that they went through to create the monument, come visit the Archives and Special Collections to see the display for Mt. Rushmore or ask about the collections that discuss Mt. Rushmore. The display will be up and ready for viewing by November 1, 2016.
And as a friendly reminder, if visiting the monument, take a moment to stop and smell the pine trees, you never know if one will smell like vanilla, chocolate, butterscotch or strawberry.