October marks 75 years for the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, which is a muse for political cartoonists and makes frequent cameos in movies. It’s also a big draw for tourists, with about 3 million people visiting each year.
It was a historian’s idea to carve gigantic sculptures into the granite pinnacles of the Black Hills of South Dakota, significant Western figures like Lewis and Clark, Buffalo Bill Cody, Fremont, Red Cloud and Sacagawea.
“In the vicinity of Harney Peak … are opportunities for heroic sculpture of unusual character,” South Dakota Department of History Superintendent Doane Robinson wrote to a sculptor in Georgia in 1924.
The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, redefined the project entirely. Using jackhammers and dynamite, he began in 1927, first sculpting President George Washington, then Thomas Jefferson, followed by Abraham Lincoln and finally Theodore Roosevelt.
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