7 Interesting Facts About Mount Rushmore

A must-visit and must-know before you go!

Mount Rushmore is a remarkable national memorial located at Pennington County in the South of Dakota. A tenacious tourist attraction in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore is a pacesetter with significant contributions. It stands as the top tourist attraction in the region, with millions of tourists visiting the place every year. Flora and fauna at this great place are the same as what can be witnessed at the Black Hills region of South Dakota, with different birds flying around and setting up their nests at the ledges of Mount Rushmore. The construction of this great monument employed the use of both human effort and resources that were very demanding. With laborers having to dangle on ropes while they hammered through the rock, explosives were also used to break and make the site lose to human effort. History records that up to 500,000 tons of dynamite explosives were used in this project.

From the history of the very first people to have inhabited, what has never changed is the fact that everyone has always considered the incredible sights such as the Badlands and the Needles of the Black Hills as being no much for the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Standing as an enormous monument, Mount Rushmore witnessed its 75th anniversary three years ago. The Mount Rushmore project is, therefore, a record of many incidences and struggles that demanded both blood and sweat from the stakeholders in their diversity before Mount Rushmore as we know it today could stand.

1. A Secret Room Exists Behind the Head of Abraham Lincoln

Mount Rushmore's Secret Room
Mount Rushmore’s Secret Room

Initially, it had been intended that a Hall of Records be put there that would serve to shelter crucial documents recording the history of America. However, this intention was never carried to completion.

However, in the later 1990s, they constructed storage within the almost finished monument. This repository served to house copies of the text and the records, which Borglum had intended to include in the initial hall. This was geared towards preserving these records for perpetuity. It is imperative to note that this storage unit is not accessible by tourists.

2. The Sculptor Was in the Same League as That of the KKK

Gutzon Borglum
Gutzon Borglum

The KKK group is short for Ku Klux Klan and was a tenacious movement in the 1800s. Among the darkest attributes concerning the history of Mount Rushmore is the fact that the sculptor that was hired by Robinson was associated with certain racist organizations. Gutzon Borglum was asked to take the position while working on the same project called Stone Mountain, which was proximal to Atlanta. The Monument recognizes remarkable heroes of the Confederacy. This project was also sponsored and supported by the local Ku Klux Klan. Borglum drew close to the KKK group and even became a pen pal with Grand Wizard. That notwithstanding, Borglum finally had a dispute with the local KKK group, an incident that led to his dismissal from the project following the completion of the head part of Robert E. Lee. This was not taken very well by the man who ended up smashing his models using an axe, an action that left Georgia for good to commence with the carving of the famous Mount Rushmore.

To this effect, the Stone Mountain’s supporters moved to sandblast Borglum’s work, and this work was finally completed through the efforts of a couple more sculptors.

3. American Indians Tried to Take Mount Rushmore for Themselves in the Late 1900s

Indian posing near Mount Rushmore
Indian posing near Mount Rushmore

America signed an agreement with the people from Lakota, an agreement that gave them the Black Hills for perpetuity. This agreement was however overlooked following the discovery of gold, an outcome that inspired the Great Sioux War. Activists from the American Indian Movement went up the mountain and dominated the site while armed with weapons such as baseball bats, among others. They laid base at the site, insisting that the US government adhere to their agreement and give back the mountain to the Lakota people.

4. The Naming Was Based Entirely on a Whim

The naming of Mount Rushmore was inspired by a whim. This is because the Lakota Sioux referred to the mountain as The Six Grandfathers, while others referred to it as the Cougar Mountain. However, the white settlers decided to name it the Slaughterhouse Rock.
It happened that on a single day, Charles Rushmore, who was an American lawyer, went on a hunting expedition ad, asked his guide the name of the mountain. Owing to the fact that there are multiple versions of this story, the guide or the lawyer might have joked that the mountain should be called Mount Rushmore. This is what inspired the naming of this mountain as the locals began to call it that, and the American government embraced it.

5. No Deaths During Its Construction

Mount Rushmore's construction
Mount Rushmore’s construction

This was a very shocking outcome because, in similar projects, it is always expected that someone loses their life following an accident on site. What makes this outcome very shocking is the fact that the construction went on for close to 15 years and involved up to 400 laborers. In the construction, the laborers were expected to climb over 500 steps on a daily basis in a bid to get to the site. This made the work very life-threatening, worse because dynamite blasts weighing up to 500000 tons were used. Moreover, there were certain laborers who were hanging on ropes while they carved the features using their jackhammers to achieve the monument.
It is imperative to note that many of these laborers lost their lives later on due to conditions of silicosis, a condition due to the inhalation of silica dust. This condition made them have severe scarring and inflammation in the tissues of their lungs. Among the deaths was that of Lou Del Bianco, the chief carver.

6. Designed to Promote Tourism

Group of tourists looking at Mount Rushmore
Group of tourists looking at Mount Rushmore

Gold was discovered in the late 1800s, a milestone that inspired the act of hordes by the white settlers to come into the area that had initially been designated to be the sovereign territory for the Sioux Indians. While new towns, as well as new infrastructure, came up, it followed that after a short while gold went large. This left much for when it came to the burgeoning population who were struggling to survive and provide for their families. Early in the 1900s, Doane Robinson, a local historian conceived a wild idea that became the inception of Mount Rushmore. The local historian moved to carve a monument in honor of the American history in the side of a mountain. To this effect, Doane began to raise funds to actualize his mission, which later became a roadside point of attraction. This achievement was a huge motivation to the tourism industry in the local area, an outcome that proved Doane’s vision as being very accurate.

7. Technically It Was Never Completed

Lincoln's head unfinished
Lincoln’s head unfinished

As it is, carving the giant faces into the granite mountain is very difficult, unlike people think it to be. In line with the initial plans concerning the monument, the four faces of the four presidents carved on the mountain were initially expected to have carved starting from the waist going up. Plans were also underway that the Louisiana Purchase, the Declaration of Independence, and even the Constitution would also be carved. Moreover, it reached a particular point when they decided to incorporate a Susan B. Anthony bust. However, there was no space for an additional face.
This order of events, therefore, made circumstances more complicated, and Borglum passed on shortly after before the completion of the project. Lincoln Borglum, who was the son of Gutzon carried on with his father’s project. However, following a single season and a little bit of completing resolves, Lincoln resolved to leave it at that under the impression that the monument was up to standard. This was despite the fact that Abraham Lincoln had not been carved with an ear.


Among the faces on Mount Rushmore include that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. These four faces have been carved to a height of up to 60 feet making them able to look out over the entire South Dakota Black Hills. A thing of beauty, this phenomenal mountain has become a renowned tourist attraction site that has attracted up to 3 million visitors and counting every year. Blood and sweat were demanded in this project, with as many laborers lost their lives later on due to conditions of silicosis, a condition due to the inhalation of silica dust. This condition made them have severe scarring and inflammation in the tissues of their lungs. Among the deaths was that of Lou Del Bianco, the chief carver. The question of why these faces exist and why they should be considered a monument cannot be overemphasized. It should be noted that behind the gargantuan granite relief lays a very dynamic and shocking history that every right-minded individual should seek to know.

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