Historical and Cultural Landscapes

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, South Dakota

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a national landscape located in the mountains of the Black Hills, South Dakota. This project is huge for its size, ambitions and achievements. Mount Rushmore commemorates the birth, growth and development of the United States. The author of the monument used a variety of machine tools and equipment blasting to achieve its goal. Every person reaches a height of over 18 meters, all of which are carved with minute detail. The rock represents the faces of four outstanding people in the US history, which made a considerable contribution into the life of American people. The political and social actions of the Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln were so significant, that their faces were carved in a rock for all to see these people. Having represented the first 150 years of US history, this monument remind American people what was done on the way to contemporary life. This monument reminds people about their history and appears to be the best representation of American striving for freedom and independence. Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a part of American history, which cannot be considered as the sightseeing only and should be valued as a part of American history and development to the contemporary free visions and independent judgments.

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The birth of the idea of creating the Mount Rushmore belongs to the historian Joan Robinson, called “the Father of Mount Rushmore” The history of the monument development started in 1923, when Joan Robinson made an attempt to develop something new with the desire to attract more tourists. The first offer was about caving a monument of an Indian chief Red Cloud, American explorers Lewis and Clark, or any other well-known personalities of the era of the conquest of the Wild West. Despite the originality of the idea, his suggestions were not supported. Another attempt to convince the government to create a monument belonged to Thomas Hart Benton, who suggested in 1849 that the face of Christopher Columbus in the Rocky Mountains would be a good decision. This idea seemed interesting and symbolic. Having invited sculptor Borglum Hudson, known for his experience in carving in stone, he was asked to analyze the territory and the possibilities for a project. Despite the fact that it was the most magnificent idea and the highest and the biggest monument ever created, Borglum agreed to take part in the project. The first steps on the way to implementing this idea was the arrival to the USA and the arrangement of some legal aspects. In 1884 he had arrived at the Black Hills to certify the ownership of land mining company. Once odes close to the mountain with a local businessman William Challis and asked the name. Since the mountain never had a name, it was called Rushmore, after a New York lawyer, Charles E. Rushmore. In June 1930, United States Board on Geographic Names officially adopted the name “Mount Rushmore”. Considering the possible options for the sculptures, “the choice fell on the figure of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln”.

Trying to understand why these particular people were carved on a mountain, it is important to follow the idea of the monument creation and to understand the history of America. Each of these four presidents has played a crucial role in the state development. For example, George Washington, the first president of the US, whose years of running the state are 1732-1799, led the struggle of the American colonies and gained independence from Britain. He was the one who laid the foundations of American democracy. Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd President of the USA (1743-1826), was the author of the Declaration of Independence. Moreover, he joined many states and increased the territory of the country twice. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), the 16th President of the USA preserved the unity of the state during the Civil War and promoted the struggle against slavery. Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), the 26th President of the USA, struggled for the rights of the working class.

The work started by Borglum was not ended by the same sculpture. The life of the architect was not enough to complete his task. The history of the monument continued after the death of the Borglum. Another seven months of work continued under the direction of his son, Korshak. Thus, the idea of the sculptor was extremely grandiose and it was always attached by new details. Following the idea of the Memorial Hall of the sculptor behind the presidential figures, he suggested breaking at the foot of a large mountain peak Memorial Park. Tunnel started to penetrate deep in the rocks in 1958. But then the work stopped. It was also planned to build a viewing platform, shops, huge parking, an outdoor theater, and much more. Some of the planned has been realized in the next years, though on a much smaller scale than the author thought. In 1959 the mountain became even more popular after Alfred Hitchcock took the final chase scene in the movie “North by Northwest”. In fact, South Dakota did not permit shooting of the Mount Rushmore, so Hitchcock was forced to initiate the construction of a huge copy of Mount Rushmore in a Hollywood studio. For a long time it was thought that a monument created by Borglum was practically eternal. But in the 80s, it became clear that the sculptural ensemble needed the renovation, and in 1981 scientists began an in-depth examination of the memorial. It turned out that the repair of the complex would take approximately 40 million dollars. For conducting a campaign to raise funds and other aid organizers created a National Committee for the Conservation of Mount Rushmore.

In the early seventies the right side of the cliff has been completely removed that radically changed its silhouette. Formed oval contour was supposed to become the horse’s head. Now it is possible to imagine how enormous the size of the sculpture was. At the same time, builders managed to pave the way to the top and make it possible to take bulldozer to the top of the mountain. This innovation has greatly facilitated the work and at the same time made it more dangerous. But the most difficult was the laying the tunnel in order to make room for a hand cut by Indians. It took the whole two years. All the work was done on the back of the mountain and therefore was hidden from the public eye. Many said that Korshak did nothing and pace sculpture would never be finished. When they have seen that the huge granite mountain had changed, all explanations have been superfluous. By 1977, 5.1 million tons of stone were already removed and a huge tunnel through the mountain had been done. After using $ 40 million for the restoration, in 1991, Mount Rushmore celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Having visited the place I was impressed by its scope and territory. It is significant that Mount Rushmore National Memorial does not consist of the four faces only. It includes Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center and Museum that has interactive exhibits and two large audiences, which show a film about Mount Rushmore. The building of the museum offers wide panorama of sculptures of the presidents, which are projected on the background of blue sky and some green trees on the foothills. Short trails lead to the Sculptor's Studio and an amphitheater. The studio has exhibits, including a model of the monument and the tools used for working on granite. On the territory of the Memorial traditional village of Lakota, Nakota and Dakota are recreated. Alley of flags joins a souvenir shop and a café with the Grandview Terrace. The wide avenue is surrounded on both sides by the official flags of US states, territories and regions, in alphabetical order. Avenue provides quick and convenient access to the terrace, offering beautiful views on the top of the mountain. Today, millions of the tourists visit Mount Rushmore to admire the work of Borhlem. The unusual plan, harmonize with the landscape. Even though the project was conceived to be much bigger, there is no feeling of incompleteness. Despite the fact that the presidents of Mount Rushmore were always revered as a symbol of the United States for some time they were in poor condition because the government has not allocated a cent for the restoration of these monuments. Only in the early July 2005, Karcher as part of the sponsorship of cultural objects in cooperation with the National Park Service started clearing works. The task was to remove lichen, algae, moss and other organic contamination, which for a long time could damage the rock mountain. Now the company has prevailed Rushmore under constant care, promising to carry out a regular maintenance work and a restoration of the sanctuary of democracy. Annually faces of presidents are tested for cracks and damages.

Having visited the place, I was impressed from the very beginning of my trip. Having stepped before the entrance and the stairs, I could see the monument in front of me. The distance is rather impressive, but I still managed to see the faces of the four presidents. Having walked through the ark by the stairs, I appeared in a lengthy alley, which took me directly to the place where I could observe the monument closer. Being located on the height of the mountain, it is seen that the rocks behind the faces lay in a huge bunch. However, it does not prevent from seeing the picturesque view. It is possible to see the result of the work of the builders and sculptors. The area of the memorial is large and free. The space behind the memorial is filled out with the hills. Walking the alley one goes through the flags. It highlights the official place and the meaning of the memorial to the Americans.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial has become a symbol of the US history. For 14 years, an impressive granite mountainside had turned into the four figures of the great presidents of the United States. What seemed almost impossible became a reality. Indeed, Mount Rushmore is a true embodiment of the human perseverance and the indomitable will. The striking sculpture is an interesting attraction not only in the State of South Dakota but in the whole America. Carvings on Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a colossal achievement, worthy synonymous with the word “monumental”. Today, Mount Rushmore National Memorial is one of the most famous symbols of America.

Dec 22, 2019 in Informative
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