Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Today in History

October 4th

Work began on Mount Rushmore

On this day in 1927, sculpting began on the face of Mount
Rushmore in the Black Hills National Forest of South Dakota. It
would take another 12 years for the impressive granite images of
four of America’s most revered and beloved presidents—George
Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln (beloved? HA!)and Theodore
Roosevelt--to be completed.

The monument was the brainchild of a South Dakota historian
named Doane Robinson, who was looking for a way to attract more
tourists to his state. He hired a sculptor named Gutzon Borglum
to carve the faces into the mountain. According to the National
Park Service, the first face to be chiseled was George
Washington’s; Borglum first sculpted the head as an egg shape,
his features added later. Thomas Jefferson’s image was
originally fashioned in the space to the right of Washington,
but, within two years, the face was badly cracked. Workers had
to blast the sculpture off the mountain using dynamite. Borglum
then started over with Jefferson situated on the left side of

Washington’s face was the first to be completed in 1934.
Jefferson’s was dedicated in 1936--with then-president Franklin
Roosevelt in attendance--and Lincoln’s was completed a year
later. In 1939, Teddy Roosevelt’s face was completed. The
project, which cost $1 million, was funded primarily by the
federal government.

Borglum continued to touch up his work at Mount Rushmore until
he died suddenly in 1941. Borglum had originally hoped to also
carve a series of inscriptions into the mountain, outlining the
history of the United States.