A memorial to the birth, growth and ideals of the United States, Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota is a monumental granite sculpture that symbolizes American pride through the greatness of it leaders. It is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, just 23 miles from Rapid City. The sculpture and its surrounding landscape serve as home to many plants and animals native to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Mount Rushmore depicts the faces of four exalted American presidents that symbolize the nation’s rich history, rugged determination and lasting achievements. At the age of 60, Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers sculpted the 60-foot busts of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln to represent the first 150 years of American history between 1927 and 1941.
Washington was chosen to represent the struggle for independence and liberty. Jefferson is honored as the author of the Declaration of Independence and for the expansion of the United States of America through the Louisiana Purchase. Roosevelt, the third bust on Mount Rushmore, is honored for the completion of the Panama Canal linking the oceans and opening the connecting waters of the East and the West. Finally, Lincoln is honored for preserving the Union and for the ideals of freedom and equality for all. Mount Rushmore’s granite faces tower at 5,500 feet above sea level and the carvings are scaled to men who would stand 465 feet tall. Each head on Mt. Rushmore is as tall as a six-story building and each president’s face is as tall as the entire Great Sphinx of Egypt, measuring 60 feet from the chin to the top of the head.
After a 10 year, multi-million dollar improvement project, Mount Rushmore now features some top flight visitor facilities including a larger parking facility and the Lincoln Borglum Museum featuring an orientation film and excellent exhibits. One of the best parts of the memorial is the Avenue of Flags which leads from the concession building to the Grandview Terrace. The flags of the 56 states and territories line either side of the walkway providing direct and easy access to the Presidential Trail. This half-mile walking trail offers spectacular views of the mountain sculpture and the closest viewpoints of the Mt. Rushmore faces so be sure to bring your camera. And check out the evening sculpture lighting ceremony. The lighting program takes place at approximately 9 p.m. nightly in the park’s amphitheater. You can also shop for local arts and crafts, such as Black Hills gold jewelry, in the Mount Rushmore gift shop or eat at the Carvers Café which offers visitors delicious food, served with a view of the presidential sculptures. And for an in-depth experience, be sure to take the Mount Rushmore audio tour. Guided walks are also available. The Mount Rushmore memorial is truly a sight to be seen with your own eyes. Just remember to bring a comfortable pair of shoes because you will be walking quite a bit and once you see the giant sculpture, you will be glad you visited for sure.
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