17 Fascinating Facts About Mount Rushmore

Did you know that it took nearly one billion US dollars to carve the faces of four American Presidents into Mount Rushmore?

Located in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore is one of the most renowned landmarks in the world.

The iconic carvings of the four Presidents’ heads have made history, but who was the mastermind behind this monumental work and why?

Here are 17 fascinating facts about Mount Rushmore that you should know.

Dynamite was used to eliminate the excess rock.

To sculpt into a rock face, hammers and chisels would take a long time. Therefore, 90% of the granite that required removing was done by dynamite, which was the most effective and quickest way to get rid of unwanted granite.

Gutzon Borglum, the head sculptor, brought a munitions expert on board to help plan where the dynamite should be placed. The expert marked out where to drill holes for the explosives to be placed. The dynamite was always set off when the workers were off-site.

Approximately 450,000 tonnes of granite needed to be removed.

Scaffolding was set up for workers to carve the sculpture into the rock face. Hoists were set up with chairs attached to a 3/8 inch (0.95 cm) steel cable from which the workers were lowered to chisel and carve out the faces. They carried jackhammers, chisels, dynamite, and drills with them so they could use whichever method was necessary for the part they were working on.

If the sculptures were full-bodied, instead of just heads, the Presidents would stand 465 feet (141 meters) tall!

There are four Presidents carved into Mount Rushmore.

Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln were chosen as they all played crucial roles in shaping the USA into what it is today.

George Washington, the first President of the United States, was chosen because of his fight for American Independence in the Revolutionary War. Thomas Jefferson was a firm believer in democracy, which was of significant importance in creating America, while Theodore Roosevelt was seen as a world leader and a highly influential President. Abraham Lincoln was selected for his role in abolishing slavery in the United States.

Mount Rushmore took 14 years to carve.

The project was approved in March 1925, but work didn’t begin until October 1927. As the sculptures would sit 60 feet (18.28 meters) high, extensive preparation was needed to start construction. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum knew it would take many years due to the scale of the task. However, the main reason why the project was completed 14 years after construction in 1941 was due to funding issues. A lack of funding meant that added features could not be done, so the project was concluded once the heads were complete.

Various collectible memorabilia has been made for Mount Rushmore.

To celebrate the birthdays of Mount Rushmore, the US Post Office created one-off stamps to commemorate 25 years since the project was started on August 11, 1952.

In 1974, a specialized stamp was released to celebrate the completion of the Mount Rushmore project’s 25th anniversary. In 1991, the United States Mint issued a silver dollar to commemorate the 50th anniversary. Gutzon Borglum was the original artist behind the project and was selected due to his previous work on Stone Mountain. Borglum was the first American sculptor to have a piece of work purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. He believed that the monuments built were not owned by anyone but were meant to celebrate American accomplishments. The design concept underwent nine different changes, including text below the face sculptures, which was removed due to funding issues. The project was the brainchild of Doane Robinson, the state historian, who wanted to boost tourism in the area. Rushmore Peak was named after Charles Rushmore, an attorney from New York who visited the area for business in 1884. The total cost of the project was $989,992, and no one died during the building works.

Regrettably, a large number of workers passed away in the following years due to a lung condition called silicosis. This was caused by the fact that workers were not given masks, and due to the constant dust created by carving and explosions, workers inhaled a significant amount. Nick Clifford, the last surviving carver who was involved in the original construction, passed away in 2019 at the age of 98.

It turns out that there is a hidden room inside Mount Rushmore. As per the original plans, a special document room was supposed to be constructed inside one of the heads. However, this did not happen during the construction due to a lack of funds, and instead, a 70-feet (21.3-meter) tunnel was built from 1938-1939. Almost sixty years later, a collection of records were placed at the entrance to the Hall of Records, including a titanium vault containing a teak box with records documenting the original construction. The box is covered by a granite slab engraved with Borglum’s quote.

Mount Rushmore is an iconic landmark in the USA and has become a popular feature in popular culture. It has been featured in various movies over the years, often as a location for top-secret information or as a secret base. The movie Team America: World Police used Mount Rushmore as the team’s base, and the film National Treasure: Book of Secrets used the location as the focal point of the movie plot.

Unfortunately, the sculptor, Borglum, passed away during the construction of Mount Rushmore in March 1941. However, his son, Lincoln, took over as head of the construction site and completed the project. However, due to a lack of funding, the monument was left unfinished when Borglum passed away, and construction ceased in October 1941.

The area where Mount Rushmore is located belongs to the Lakota Tribe and is an ancient Native American site known as The Six Grandfathers. The Six Grandfathers and the Paha Sapa (the Black Hills) were formed over 65 million years ago, making them some of the oldest mountain formations in the world. The area was first discovered by white Americans in 1804 while they were surveying the area.

During the late 19th century, the US government marked a region as “The Great American Desert” and considered it unsuitable for human habitation, so it was declared a “permanent Indian country.” Mount Rushmore, a famous landmark, was erected on land that belonged to the Lakota tribe, as per the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868. After the Great Sioux War, the US government took over the land and used it to construct the monument. In 1971, the American Indian Movement staged a protest and renamed the mountain “Mount Crazy Horse.” Climbing to the top of the monument, John Fire Lame Deer placed a sacred staff with a symbolic shroud covering the faces of the Presidents, which he claimed would remain dirty until the Black Hills treaties were fulfilled. The weather has eroded the sculpture over time, and the waterproof coating created by Borglum has not held up well, requiring regular maintenance. Despite these challenges, Mount Rushmore continues to attract millions of tourists every year, with a visitors’ center built in 1957 to enhance the visitor experience.


1. What is Mount Rushmore?

Mount Rushmore is a famous mountain in South Dakota, USA. It is known for its massive sculpture of the four United States presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, carved into the mountain’s granite face.

2. Who created Mount Rushmore?

The Mount Rushmore sculpture was created by the sculptor Gutzon Borglum. The project took 14 years to complete, from 1927 to 1941. Borglum was assisted by over 400 workers who helped in the construction of the sculpture.

3. How tall is Mount Rushmore?

The Mount Rushmore sculpture is 60 feet tall. Each of the four faces is approximately 20 feet tall. The entire sculpture covers an area of 5.17 square miles.

4. Why were these presidents chosen?

The four presidents depicted on Mount Rushmore were chosen because they played a significant role in the history of the United States. George Washington was the first president and helped establish the country. Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence. Theodore Roosevelt was known for his conservation efforts, and Abraham Lincoln is remembered for leading the country during the Civil War and ending slavery.

5. How was the sculpture created?

The sculpture was created by drilling holes into the granite and then using dynamite to blast away the rock. Workers then used jackhammers and chisels to shape the faces of the presidents. The final details were made by using hand-held drills and other tools.

6. Is Mount Rushmore a natural or man-made wonder?

Mount Rushmore is a man-made wonder. The sculpture was created by humans, and it took years of hard work and dedication to complete. It is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the United States and is a symbol of American history and culture.

7. How many visitors does Mount Rushmore receive each year?

Mount Rushmore receives over 2 million visitors each year. Visitors come from all over the world to see the famous sculpture and learn about the history of the United States. The site also offers hiking trails, a museum, and other attractions.

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