Carved by Dynamite, Massive Founding Fathers at Mt. Rushmore [34 PICS]

February 16th, 2013 Permalink

President’s Day is always celebrated on the third Monday of February and the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, a sculpture carved into the granite near Keystone, South Dakota, seemed most appropriate to celebrate it. Each of the 60 foot sculpted heads were carved into the granite, mostly by blasting with dynamite, to depict U.S. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Together, these Founding Fathers represent the first 130 years of American history. [34 Photos]

Mount Rushmore during sunset

Mount Rushmore during sunset, a shot of the great monument with fading sunlight behind the Black Hills. The 60-foot (18 m) sculpted heads are of U.S. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Photo #1 by Chaitanya Polumetla

Air Force One flying over Mount Rushmore

Air Force One flying over Mount Rushmore. The entire memorial is spread out over 1,278.45 acres (5.17 km2). Photo #2 by U.S. Air Force

Mt Rushmore entrance

Every year, about 3 million visitors come through this entrance to view the presidents which were sculpted by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum. Wikipedia states, “Construction on the memorial began in 1927, and the presidents’ faces were completed between 1934 and 1939. Upon Gutzon Borglum’s death in March 1941, his son Lincoln Borglum took over construction. Although the initial concept called for each president to be depicted from head to waist, lack of funding forced construction to end in late October 1941.” Photo #3 by Scott Catron


Roosevelt and Lincoln - Mt Rushmore

Roosevelt and Lincoln – Mt Rushmore. Photo #4 by Stewart Baird

Founding Fathers, Mt. Rushmore

It took 400 workers 14 years to carve out our Founding Fathers. Photo #5 by Zach Dischner

Mt. Rushmore at Night

Mt. Rushmore at Night. The NPS evening lighting schedule varies throughout the year, but during the main season, NPS said from mid-May to mid-August, the sculptures are lit up at 9:00 p.m. nightly. The evening lighting starts at 8:00 p.m. from mid-August through September. Photo #6 by Dhaval Shreyas

1932 picture of construction at Mount Rushmore of George Washington’s likeness

1932 picture of construction at Mount Rushmore of George Washington’s likeness. Amazingly, even with 400 workers and hanging by harnesses, there were no fatalities during construction. Photo #7 by Rise Studio, Rapid City, S. Dak

Two Hornets flying by Mount Rushmore

Two F/A-18E Super Hornets conduct a fly by of Mount Rushmore during a recent training exercise. U.S. Navy Photo #8 by Lt. Anthony Dobson

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Mount Rushmore National Memorial. NPS wrote, “The figure of Thomas Jefferson was originally started on Washington’s right side. After 18 months of carving the figure of Jefferson had to be blasted off the mountain and restarted on Washington’s left side.” Photo #9 by Jim Bowen from Hope Mills NC, US

Mount Rushmore HDR

Mount Rushmore HDR. This project to carve the Presidents into Rushmore was first started to increase tourism in the Black Hills region of South Dakota and is now the top tourist location in the state. Photo #10 by Mike Tigas from Spokane, WA, United States

USAF Celebrating Independence

Fireworks detonate above the National Memorial in South Dakota. USAF Photo #11 by Senior Airman Marc I. Lane

Mt Rushmore in North by Northwest is a 1959 MGM thriller by Alfred Hitchcock

Screenshot from trailer for North by Northwest: It is a 1959 MGM thriller by Alfred Hitchcock. The film stars Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Leo G. Carroll, and Martin Landau. “Scriptwriter Ernest Lehman recalled that in the course of screenwriting, Hitchcock murmured wistfully, ‘I always wanted to do a chase across the faces of Mount Rushmore.’ The scene was not actually filmed at the monument, since permission to shoot an attempted killing on the face of a national monument was refused by the National Park Service.” Mt. Rushmore has been used in other movies such as National Treasure: Book of Secrets in which “the monument was constructed to hide the City of Gold.” Photo #12 by Petrusbarbygere

Washington Profile

George Washington Profile closeup. Presidents Day is celebrated in honor of Washington’s birthday. When George Washington was leading the troops so America could be free of Britain’s control, he said, “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die.” Photo #13 by Ed Menard Ranger / NPS

Mt Rushmore seen from one of the tunnels on highway 16A

Mt Rushmore seen from one of the tunnels on highway 16A. Photo #14 by Kimon Berlin

Mount Rushmore in the fog

Mount Rushmore in the fog. This mountain was “originally known to the Lakota Sioux as Six Grandfathers, the mountain was renamed after Charles E. Rushmore, a prominent New York lawyer, during an expedition in 1885.” But “as Six Grandfathers, the mountain was part of the route that Lakota leader Black Elk took in a spiritual journey that culminated at Harney Peak.” So “Mount Rushmore is controversial among Native Americans because the United States seized the area from the Lakota tribe after the Great Sioux War of 1876. The Treaty of Fort Laramie from 1868 had previously granted the Black Hills to the Lakota in perpetuity. Members of the American Indian Movement led an occupation of the monument in 1971, naming it ‘Mount Crazy Horse’.” However, “the Crazy Horse Memorial is being constructed elsewhere in the Black Hills to commemorate the famous Native American leader and as a response to Mount Rushmore.” Photo #15 by Ed Menard Ranger / NPS

Mount Rushmore in the snow

Mount Rushmore in the snow. In the off-season, there is still an evening lighting ceremony: “Sculpture illuminated nightly for one hour, approximately 30 minutes after sunset.” Photo #16 by Ed Menard Ranger / NPS

MORU Mount Rushmore National Park ranger with Washington and Jefferson

Mount Rushmore National Park ranger with Washington and Jefferson. Photo #17 by NPS

View of Abraham Lincoln from on top of Mt. Rushmore

View of Abraham Lincoln from on top of Mt. Rushmore. On November 19, 1863, during the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln said, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Photo #18 by Rachel.miller727

MORU Hall of records, not open to public

MORU Hall of records, according to NPS, “Artist Gutzon Borglum envisioned a Hall of Records behind the sculpture that was never completed. The Hall of Records and the mountain are inaccessible to the public.” Photo #19 by NPS / Amy Bracewell

Interior Hall of Records, Mt Rushmore

Interior Hall of Records. NPS Did You Know states, “A man-made opening called the Hall of Records was created in the mountain behind the heads on Mount Rushmore. Gutzon Borglum and his carvers worked on the Hall of Records from July, 1938, until July, 1939, but it was never finished.” Photo #20 by NPS / Amy Bracewell

MORU Hall of Records

MORU Hall of Records “repository was intended to tell the story of Mount Rushmore and of the United States . After the United States Congress threatened to cut off all funding for the project unless used specifically to finish the sculpture itself, Borglum reluctantly stopped work on the hall in 1939.” Photo #21 by NPS / Amy Bracewell

Roosevelt closeup from above

Roosevelt closeup from above. “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are,” said Roosevelt. He also said, “I have always been fond of the West African proverb ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far’.” Photo #22 by NPS Digital Image Archives

Winch and equipment in Lincoln Borglum Museum

Winch and equipment in Lincoln Borglum Museum. NPS explains the carving history: “Mount Rushmore is a project of colossal proportion, colossal ambition and colossal achievement. It involved the efforts of nearly 400 men and women. The duties involved varied greatly from the call boy to drillers to the blacksmith to the housekeepers. Some of the workers at Mount Rushmore were interviewed, and were asked, ‘What is it you do here?’ One of the workers responded and said, ‘I run a jackhammer.’ Another worker responded to the same question, ‘I earn $8.00 a day.’ However, a third worker said, ‘I am helping to create a memorial.’ The third worker had an idea of what they were trying to accomplish.” Photo #23 by Ed Menard / NPS

Charles D’Emery documented the carving of Mount Rushmore for 14 years

Charles D’Emery documented the carving of Mount Rushmore for 14 years. Photo #24 by Charles D’Emery / NPS

Mt Rushmore detail of Abraham Lincoln's face

Mt Rushmore detail of Abraham Lincoln’s face. CyArk states, “Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, held the nation together during its greatest trial, the Civil War. Lincoln believed his most sacred duty was the preservation of the union. It was his firm conviction that slavery must be abolished (1809-1865).” Photo #25 by CyArk / Kacyra Family Foundation / NPS

Mt. Rushmore, upclose view of Thomas Jefferson

Mt. Rushmore, up-close view of Thomas Jefferson. CyArk site states, “Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, was the author of the Declaration of Independence, a document which inspires democracies around the world. He also purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803 which doubled the size of our country, adding all or part of fifteen present-day states (1743-1826).” A Jefferson quote: “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” Photo #26 by CyArk / Kacyra Family Foundation / NPS

Mt Rushmore detail on Theodore Roosevelt's face

Mt Rushmore detail on Theodore Roosevelt’s face. CyArk wrote, “Theodore Roosevelt, 26th president of the United States, provided leadership when America experienced rapid economic growth as it entered the 20th Century. He was instrumental in negotiating the construction of the Panama Canal, linking the east and the west. He was known as the ‘trust buster’ for his work to end large corporate monopolies and ensure the rights of the common working man (1858-1919).” Photo #27 by CyArk / Kacyra Family Foundation / NPS

MORU working on Jefferson, photo by Charles D'Emery

Mount Rushmore National Memorial working on Jefferson, photo by Charles D’Emery. More from NPS about the carving history: “The workers had to endure conditions that varied from blazing hot to bitter cold and windy. Each day they climbed 700 stairs to the top of the mountain to punch-in on the time clock. Then 3/8 inch thick steel cables lowered them over the front of the 500 foot face of the mountain in a ‘bosun chair’. Some of the workers admitted being uneasy with heights, but during the Depression, any job was a good job.” Photo #28 by Charles D’Emery / NPS

Mount Rushmore, hanging in the sky, working on an eye

Mount Rushmore, hanging in the sky, working on an eye. Not a single man or woman died during the 14 years of blasting and carving to create the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Photo #29 by Charles D’Emery / NPS

Dynamite to carve the presidents faces into Mt Rushmore

NPS said, “Over 90% of Mount Rushmore was carved using dynamite. Dynamite blasts removed approximately 450,000 tons of rock from the mountain.” This historic D’Emery photo is of early construction work on the Lincoln sculpture, showing dust from the dynamite blasts. NPS also wrote, “Dynamite was used until only three to six inches of rock was left to remove to get to the final carving surface. At this point, the drillers and assistant carvers would drill holes into the granite very close together. This was called honeycombing. The closely drilled holes would weaken the granite so it could be removed often by hand.” Photo #30 by Charles D’Emery / NPS

Mount Rushmore construction workers hanging by cables

Mount Rushmore construction workers hanging by cables. Photo #31 by Charles D’Emery / NPS

Mount Rushmore, cables, workers

Mount Rushmore and brave workers. Photo #32 by Charles D’Emery / NPS

Construction of MORU

Construction of Mount Rushmore National Monument (MORU). Photo #33 by Charles D’Emery / NPS

Colossal heads of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln were sculpted by Gutzon Borglum on the face of a granite mountain

Colossal granite heads of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln are not eroding “since the estimated erosion rate is 1 inch every 10,000 years.” Photo #34 by National Park Service Digital Image Archives


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