By the 1980s, the park service was faced with steadily increasing visitation and deteriorating facilities that hampered its ability to tell theMount Rushmorestory. With a growing federal deficit and sorely needed improvements at other park service units, federal funding for major improvements at Mount Rushmorewas highly unlikely.
Consequently, in 1989, the Mount Rushmore Society embarked on one of the most ambitious private-sector initiatives in the history ofAmerica’s national parks. South Dakota Governor George Mickelson issued a $2 million dollar challenge that would be matched by state funds. More than 54 South Dakota communities exceeded that challenge by providing $3.5 million to the Preservation Fund. The nationwide campaign raised $25 million, which spurred $56 million in improvements such as the Amphitheater,Lincoln Borglum Museum,Visitor Center,Information Centerand concession buildings.
The campaign also developed new techniques to preserve and monitor the carving as well as protect the Memorial’s historic artifacts, generated unparalleled media attention forMount Rushmore and resulted in new opportunities for visitors toAmerica’s Shrine of Democracy.
In 1992, initial ground breaking for redevelopment took place, and construction continued on the redevelopment for six years. In 1998, the redevelopment design and construction of the current facilities at Mount Rushmore were completed with no federal tax dollars being used to fund the project. The Preservation Fund goal of $56 million was reached by combining $25 million in private and corporate contributions, $14 million from AmFac Concession investments and $17 million from parking facility investments.
-some of this content was written by Mount Rushmore Society Board Member T.D. Griffith who was the Society’s Director of Communications during the Preservation Campaign in the late 1980s which raised millions for the park’s renovations.
This is the fifth part in a series of Mount Rushmorehistory posts. The four previous posts can be found by following the “Mount Rushmore History” tag. 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.”