When I was looking at my journey through the US I saw that my route would take me near to Mount Rushmore National Memorial so I decided to make sure that my route passed through Rapid City so that I could rent a car to go see the famous site. I mainly knew it from films and knew no history about it before I went but decided I had to see the famous monument for myself.
Mount Rushmore is in the Black Hills of South Dakota and was authorised by the United States Congress on 3 March 1925 as a memorial to the history of America. The carving of the faces started in 1927 and took 14 years to complete. It cost just under $1m. The presidents are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt & Abraham Lincoln. Each face is 60 feet tall (or a 6 floor building) with each eye 11 feet wide, though when you are there they don’t look as big as you expect!!
Gutzon Borglum the sculptor made plaster copies of the models at a ratio of 1:12 with one inch being one foot on the mountain, so that it was easy to transfer the measurements across. They used dynamite to get within inches of the measurements and then the rest was carved by hand. You can see Borglum’s original model at the sculptors studio on the presidential walk.
Mount Rushmore is located 25 miles from Rapid City so after I had picked up the rental car I drove straight to Mount Rushmore. There is no entrance fee for the memorial but you have to pay $10 for parking!
Once I was parked up I walked up to the entrance and as I was walking along the avenue of flags I got my first glimpse of the presidents.
It’s an amazing sight, though they did actually look smaller than I thought they would!!
I carried on walking till I reached the grand view terrace, where you have an uninterrupted view. This is also where the amphitheater is and where on a summer’s night you can watch the evening’s lighting ceremony. Unfortunately I was unable to see as I was planning on being at the Crazy Horse Memorial to see their light ceremony.
On the lower level is the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center where you can watch a film about the history of the memorial and how it was created. Very interesting and worth a watch if you have time.
From here I decided to do the Presidential Trail, its only half a mile so not a very long trail and takes you nearer the base of the mountain. There are a lot of steps though on this trail, especially as you walk around to the sculptors studio. Well worth the effort though.
From left to right you can see, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
After this I headed back to the cafe on site and tried the Thomas Jefferson Ice Cream, which is created using a recipe written by Thomas Jefferson himself!! Ice cream became popular in the US after he started serving it in the president’s house in Washington between 1801 and 1809!
I then made my way to Custer State Park enjoying the views of the Black Hills National Forest, with the occasional glimpse of the presidents.
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