Thursday, August 21, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 156

The housecleaning project we are in the midst of netted a few forgotten postcards including this one from the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota.  Paul Niemann took the photograph and the Rushmore Photos & Gifts, Inc published it.

This massive granite mountainside sculpture is one of the best-known American symbols and is a popular destination for travelers in the United States with over 2 million visitors a year.  Represented are four former Presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.  The heads are 60 feet tall and took from 1927 to 1939 to complete.  Originally the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, had wanted each figure to be depicted from head to waist but he died in March 1941 and although his son, Lincoln Borglum, who had helped with the project took over the remaining construction, lack of funding forced an end in October of that year.

Doanne Robinson, a South Dakota historian, conceived the idea of carving likenesses of famous people into the Black Hills region as early as 1923 in order to promote tourism.  Borglum agreed to take on the project but rejected the site selected by Robinson, the Needles, because the granite there was a poor quality and there was opposition from Native American groups.  Mount Rushmore had better quality granite and was facing southeast for maximum sun exposure.  Robinson wanted western heroes such as Lewis and Clark, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Red Cloud but Borglum wanted a more national focus therefore chose the presidents instead. 

The four chosen presidents were selected because Borglum felt they best represented preservation of the Republic and expanding the territory.   Plaster models of the monument are on display in the sculptor’s studio and show the hoped for head to waist design.  Trivia--the project cost almost 1 million dollars, was notable for its size, and there were no fatalities during the blasting and carving process.

Avenue of the flags

Views of Mount Rushmore from near the visitor center

In September 2000 we visited Mount Rushmore and took a few pictures.  There is a nice visitor center and several viewing areas.  Very near to the parking area is a rocky hillside that on that particular day was a grazing area to several mountain goats.  We could not believe that they were so close to the cars and people but they seemed not to mind and calmly continued to eat what greenery was available.

There is a 0.5 mile hiking trail that offers different views of Mount Rushmore.  It is mostly a boardwalk and labeled as an easy family friendly hike. 

The mountain has had several different names and was originally known as Six Grandfathers by the Lakota Sioux.  After a series of military campaigns (1876-1878) the United States took control of the area.  That claim is still disputed on the basis of a 1868 treaty. It was also variously called Cougar Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Slaughterhouse Mountain and Keystone Cliffs by settlers coming into the area.  The mountain was officially renamed for Charles E. Rushmore, a prominent New York lawyer, during an expedition in 1885.

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