Our first look at the famous presidential heads of Mount Rushmore came through a tunnel.
|The sculptures of four American presidents has become|
and iconic symbol of freedom and hope.
|Tunnels were blasted through the mountain when |
building Iron Mountain Road.
Instead of taking a direct western route, we drove a bit south and then followed 17-mile Iron Mountain Road through hills, meadows, and Black Hills National Forest—marveling at the amount of dynamite needed to blast through solid rock and create three tunnels when the highway was built in 1933.
|Mount Rushmore views for a distance of several miles.|
Despite the hazy atmosphere (from fires in Canada) I was thrilled at our first glimpse of the National Memorial. Once through the final tunnel, our views of the gigantic presidents increased with every turn in the road--another two miles to Mount Rushmore.
|One of the pigtail bridges on Iron Mountain Road|
in South Dakota
To celebrate our country, the primary walkway is flanked by flags of every state. At the end of the esplanade is a seating area that looks out over the presidential heads. At a staging area below a local band was playing marching music on the day of our visit.We visited the Sculptor’s Studio where Borglum spent much of his time refining his scale model of Mount Rushmore. Then we walked President’s Trail--0.8 mile and 422 stairs long, to get as close and personal with the sculpture as possible. A 14-minute film in the Visitor Center describes the reasons for and methods used in carving Mount Rushmore.
|The profile view of Washington|
is also incredible.
Rangers give talks throughout the day, and we learned that the massive task took 14 years and 400 workers to complete at a cost of almost a million dollars. Although Borglum made a plaster mold of each face, he told the artists to feel with their fingers and work from what they felt more than what they saw. We also learned that a 10’ tunnel created behind Lincoln’s head was intended to store historical papers but was never finished.With an erosion rate of one inch every 10,000 years, Mount Rushmore National Memorial should last a really long time. If you can visit in the evening, a spectacular Lighting Ceremony is held nightly from mid-May through the end of September.
Even after leaving the Memorial, the views were not over. An amazing profile view of George Washington was visible on Hwy 244 as we headed to the town of Custer.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier