Mount Rushmore History

by Katlyn Richter on April 1, 2011 · 2 comments

This year, Mount Rushmore National Memorial is celebrating the 70th anniversary of completion. The Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society produced a 2011 calendar spelling out some of the best history that I’ve read on the monument. They’ve allowed us to share this information with you over the next several months. We’d like to start out with the originator of the idea and the sculptor of the monument.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial – Photo by SD Tourism

Doane Robinson
Usually Mount Rushmore is attributed to the genius of Gutzon Borglum, but without the influence of a humble state historian named Duane Robinson, the idea might never have gotten its start. In 1923, while secretary and superintendent of the State Historical Society of South Dakota, Doane had the idea to carve western figures on the “Needles” (granite spires) in Custer State Park to draw tourism dollars to the state. He envisioned grand people like Buffalo Bill Cody, Lewis & Clark and Sacagawea in stone. Encouraged by other politicians, Doane shared his dream with sculptor Gutzon Borglum who molded the historian’s vision into what we see today.
(Source: Gutzon Borglum: His Life and Work)

Sculptor Gutzon Borglum
The month of October is a significant one in telling the story of sculptor Gutzon Borglum. The carving of Mount Rushmore began on October 4, 1927 and ended on October 31, 1941 not long after his death. Born in 1867 to Danish immigrants, he ventured to California at the age of 16 and began pursuing art in the form of painting. Although he is mainly known for carving Mount Rushmore, his art legacy also included oil painting, line drawings, gargoyles and other national monuments. After studying in Europe, Borglum fell in love with Mary Montgomery Borglum who went with him on his quest in planning a momentous sculpture at Stone Mountain, Georgia which was to be a tribute to the confederate army. After an argument with the association that contracted him for the project and promptly throwing the models off the mountain, Gutzon Borglum fled Georgia and turned his eyes to where his dream of carving a mountain was sure to be realized – Mount Rushmore.


The Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society allowed us to share these great pieces of history about Mount Rushmore National Memorial, visit their website for more information. They can also be found on facebook by searching for “Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society.”

For ideas and trip planning tools for your South Dakota vacation, visit www.travelsd.com, follow us on twitter @travelsd or “like” us on facebook by searching for South Dakota Tourism.

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Mount Rushmore History
April 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm
Mount Rushmore National Memorial History, Part 2
April 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm

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