Monday, October 11, 2010

Mount Rushmore. Hallelujah!

Like I mentioned before, MR was on our minds the entire trip up to this point.  For 2 months the kids kept asking "when are we gonna see MR?? When??"  The excitement as we approached was palpable.  As we walked down the Avenue of the Flags towards the observation point, Whirlwind ran ahead and yelled "There's MR! There's MR!!"


Yes, MR is known as "The Shrine of Democracy" and holds a very patriotic place in this country's heart.  But, did you know that the original idea to carve something big into the mountainside was merely a tourist gimmick??  A South Dakota historian came up with the idea to entice more tourist to come out west!  The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, however regarded it as much more than that.  He wanted the mountain to be a celebration of all things American and he wanted it to be BIG, as that was his view of America.  He settled on MR as the location since it has a nice broad wall facing the southeast and would therefore receive direct sunlight for most of the day.

As you might have noticed, the mountain was named way before the idea for the sculpture even came up.  It's named for a NY lawyer who visited way back when, before the mountain was named.  When Mr. Rushmore asked his friend for the name of the mountain he was told it was nameless.  Said friend suggested it be called Mt. Rushmore, since he's the one that asked the question!

Borglum, the sculptor, was the one who chose the subjects for the carving and with that choice turned a regional project into a national one.  Each president was chosen for his remarkable contribution to the country:  Washington represents the birth of the country, Jefferson the expansion of the country (the Louisiana Purchase), Lincoln the preservation of the country (Civil War), and Roosevelt the development of the country (The Panama Canal and other progressive causes).



Here's another secret about MR that some of you may already know about, especially if you've seen 'National treasure'.  There IS a secret room, or tunnel really, behind the presidents!   Now, I haven't seen National Treasure but from what I've heard the concept is quite exaggerated.  Borglum did in fact want the room or, The Hall of Records, to hold the nation's important documents, including the Constitution.  His thought was that a few thousand years from now someone might find it and be able to read all about the nation and the people carved in the mountain.   Though his original plan was never carried out, nearly 60 years after his death 16 porcelain enamel slabs were placed inside the Hall or Records.   Those slabs were sealed in a solid wood box, put in a titanium vault and then sealed under a 1,200 pound granite capstone.  Carved on those 16 slabs were the history of the presidents, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the biography of Borglum.

Here's a picture of the ceremony from the book Mount Rushmore's Hall of Records by Paul Higbee.


The whole notion is pretty neat if you ask me!

OK, on to our experiences there.....

For some reason a silliness attack was upon us for most of our visit so most of our pictures are, well, quite silly.


'Framing' the presidents -

We also tried to act presidential to match the looks on the mountain.  Some of us succeeded more than others....

Ah! here we go -


Seems we couldn't get enough of taking pictures with the presidents -

BTW, we were told by the Native American women at Crazy Horse that when she visited MR as a young woman an old man told her to go home and look at her pictures.  In between Lincoln and Roosevelt she would spot a Native American posing right along with the presidents!  Sure enough, she found him!  It is said that if you come in the late afternoon and take your pictures you will be able to see him.  After all, he does belong up there on the mountainside overlooking the Black Hills!  After hearing this story from her we actually read about it elsewhere as well.  I can't remember where now though.....

No, we couldn't see him in our pics.  Maybe some of you can spot him??

Well, geting back to our business again.

We of course spent time working on the Jr. Ranger books.  Here they are sketching the mountain.


We also worked on it in the truck while waiting for the evening show to start.


We explored the little museum in the visitor's center -


And of course got sworn in -



The evening show, I have to admit, was disappointing.  We were told it was glorious and wonderful when in fact we felt it was pretty mediocre.  The movie presentation was nice and informative, telling each president's story.  As the movie ends MR is lit up as you can see below.  To wrap up the night all veterans or family members of vets are called on stage for the folding of the flag.  It was all very respectful and honorable.


I don't know, maybe if we hadn't been to Crazy Horse the previous night our expectations wouldn't have been that high, but we were disappointed.


And there ends our Mount Rushmore experience!  Despite the night show, we felt our visit was a grand success!  Some of us still beg to go back again.

Here's Whirlwind carving MR on his sister's bed, like I mentioned in a previous post somewhere......Thankfully 'real' carving was not going on....ya never know!


Finally, from MR we got a good view of what lay ahead of us.  Lots of barren desert!  Onward and eastward we go!



  1. n the book, Ben finds a picture of the missing plank from the desk and an entry by President Coolidge, who found the plank in 1924, had it destroyed, and commissioned Gutzon Borglum to carve Mount Rushmore to erase the map's landmarks in order to protect the treasure. Ben, Riley, Abigail, and Patrick head to Mount Rushmore where they meet Wilkinson, who has kidnapped Ben's mother. He helps them find the entrance of a cave containing the legendary Native American city of gold, Cíbola. Once inside, they encounter several traps, and Ben, Abigail, Riley, and Wilkinson get separated from Ben's parents. Eventually, they find the city of gold behind Mount Rushmore. Oh -where to start? I love it. Ok #1 - the reference to National Treasure - I actually saw one of the sequels, National Treasure: Book of Secrets yesterday (yeah I know how bored must I have been!). anyway as I wrote you the final scene takes place at MR in the (supposed) Indian city of gold hidden underneath. I think that's probably what you're referring to. I didn't know about the secret room. The other movie is about the Declaration of Independence and I don't think ever gets to MR. #2 - oh those kids are darling! #3 - isn't that inventor carving Analyzers bed #4 - great quilt on her bed.

  2. I see the Native American in your photo of your daughter at dusk. He is on the right side of Abe Lincoln. You can see the outline of his face. Not between T. Roosevelt and Abe but on the right side of Abe. Clear as day to me.

    Looks like you all are having a great time. I enjoy reading your posts every day. We hope to be able to travel like you all with our kids beginning next summer. Not sure if we are going to go for a year or just a month or two.

  3. I finally see him!! Took me a while....I've never been too good at that kind of stuff :-). Thanks for coming by and reading Sears family and I hope you get out soon! THis is so much better than we even imagined.

    Ema, that's Whirlwind carving......for a minute there you had me worried about it :-)