Mount Rushmore is a granite mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota that features the carvings of the likenesses of four presidents' heads. The carvings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt were done by sculptor Gutzon Borglum. The official name for Borglum's spectacular sculpture is the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, but the name is commonly shortened.
The mountain was named after a lawyer, Charles E. Rushmore, who dealt with Black Hills mining claims in 1885. Borglum began work on the gigantic sculpture on 10 August 1927, and he chose the particular mountain he did both for the consistency of the granite and the direction of the sun as he worked. His sculpture took 14 years to carve, as he worked on the piece gradually.
Low funding and bad weather conditions forced Borglum to delay the work for long periods of time, but he worked on it whenever he could. The end cost of the carving was $900,000 US Dollars (USD). Borglum was an expert artist before beginning the project, and he studied under the famous French sculptor Auguste Rodin.
The presidents carved on Mount Rushmore are said to symbolize American freedom and democracy. George Washington signifies the fight for independence, while Thomas Jefferson stands for the notion of a people's government. Abraham Lincoln symbolizes the concept of equality and the union of the states. Theodore Roosevelt represents the international importance of the United States in the 20th century.
Borglum's original plan was to carve the entire bodies of the presidents into the mountainside, but time and cost did not allow it. He carved Washington's head first, then Jefferson's and Lincoln's. The sculptor was nearly finished Roosevelt's head in 1941 when he died. Borglum's son finished Roosevelt's head to complete the monument later in 1941.
Mount Rushmore was redeveloped in 1998 at a cost of $56 million USD. The Lincoln Borglum Museum shows a 13 minute film about the carving of the sculpture, and a hike on the Presidential Trail leads to the base of the mountain. The attraction includes dining venues, a bookstore, and a gift shop. Children's activities are available during certain times of the year. Each night, the mountain carvings are illuminated for a few hours after dusk.