On October 31, 1941, the monument at Mount Rushmore was completed. The presidents carved into the granite were initially started by Gutzon Borglum to increase tourism in the Black Hills area of South Dakota. During the build, 400 men and women labored through dangerous work to create what is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in the nation. Today, the 60 ft heads of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt stare out from Mount Rushmore, all because of their contributions to democracy. Between 1927 and 1941, no lives were lost in construction. Now, around 2 million people visit this site every year.

  • Gutzon Borglum oversees work on Mount Rushmore
    Gutzon Borglum oversees work on Mount Rushmore

At first, the plan was not to show the faces of popular presidents; in fact, the original plan included the carving of other famous figures on a completely different mountain, such as Chief Red Cloud from the Sioux tribe. Combating these intentions, Gutzon Burglum envisioned a mountain with the four presidents that are still there today, showcased from the torso up; however, limited funding caused the plan to change to only the head of each individual. Finally, a plan was complete, and President Coolidge delivered his dedication speech on August 10, 1927- construction would begin in October of that year. 

Trough 14 years of construction, 400 workers climbed 700 stairs daily just to start the job. However, much of the construction occurred during the Great Depression, so a job and income was widely appreciated despite the dangers. Most of the 450,000 tons of rock removed was done by dynamite. Only the last few inches were finished by hand using drills and chisels.

In March, 1941, Gutzon died and left the finishing touches to his son, Lincoln. Later that year, the project was finally finished. Now, the 60 foot heads of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt stand as a "Shrine of Democracy". The goal was to improve tourism in the area, a goal that was accomplished beyond belief and original intention. 

http://www.nps.gov/moru/learn/historyculture/carving-history.htm http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/mount-rushmore http://nativeamericannetroots.net/diary/1212