Celebrate Mount Rushmore National Memorial's 75th Anniversary
Visit the Black Hills of South Dakota in 2016.
As you gaze skyward toward the looming, stone faces of America's famed former presidents carved into a South Dakota mountainside, it's impossible not to gape at their enormity and significance. Seeing this iconic emblem in person makes a visit to Mount Rushmore National Memorial an unforgettable journey.
The idea for the monument was the brainchild of local historian Doane Robinson in 1923. Robinson hoped Mount Rushmore's creation would increase tourism to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Now, with 2016 marking its 75th anniversary, Mount Rushmore's early goals have been achieved. Today, the monument receives an average of 3 million visitors each year and is in large part responsible for the state's tourism boom.
Plan a visit to celebrate the landmark's anniversary, armed with knowledge of Mount Rushmore's fascinating history.
Building Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Nearly 400 men worked on the creation of the monument, using dynamite and chisels to carve the rock into the 60-foot-high likenesses of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The four presidents were chosen because they each represented different eras of America's history.
Incredibly, no one died over the 14 years it took to build the monument, despite harsh working and weather conditions. Carved mostly during the Great Depression, the monument's creation provided work to scores of men, and cost the government $1 million.
Did You Know? Rushmore Fun Facts
Carving Mount Rushmore required dynamite blasts to remove 450,000 tons of rock from the mountainside.
Each president's head measures 60 feet high; the monument is scaled to men who would stand 465 feet tall.
Washington's nose measures 21 feet long. The other presidents' noses measure approximately 20 feet.
Each president's eyes are 11 feet wide; their mouths are 18 feet wide.
Thomas Jefferson was originally carved to the right of Washington; 18 months into construction workers realized the granite was too weak and his face was dynamited off and carved on the other side.
Mount Rushmore has been a star of the Silver Screen over the decades, and is featured in films like Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest, National Treasure: Book of Secrets and Mars Attacks!
The mountain goats that call Mount Rushmore home are not native to the area or to South Dakota. They were a gift from the government of Canada to Custer State Park in 1923, and eventually made their way to Rushmore.
If You Go
Mount Rushmore is open year round, 7 days a week except Christmas. Check the NPS website for hours of operation. If you can plan your visit to coincide with sunset, you can watch the nightly illumination ceremony, when the monument is aglow with lights. Amenities at the monument include a cafe, gift shop, visitor's center, audio tours and bathroom.
Where to Stay
Dozens of hotels and motels lie within an easy drive from the monument. You'll find chain hotels, bed and breakfasts, historic properties, mountain lodges and forest retreats. Since 1903, the Franklin Hotel in Deadwood has hosted guests that include John Wayne, Teddy Roosevelt and Babe Ruth. History lovers will appreciate the property's original banisters, ceilings and lobby fireplace. The Lodge at Mount Rushmore serves as an affordable and convenient alternative.
From Rushmore, consider paying a visit to the jaw-dropping Crazy Horse Memorial. This as-yet-to-be-completed monument in the Black Hills of Custer County depicts Crazy Horse, an Oglala Lakota warrior, riding a horse and pointing into the distance. Rushmore also lies in proximity to the unforgettable Badlands National Park -- a must-visit if you're in the region, and Custer State Park, where you'll find stunning Black Hills scenery and excellent hiking trails.