After More Than Seventy Years, Borglum’s Mount Rushmore Remains
Gutzon Borglum had a vision and it was a vision that was to lead him to create one of the legendary monuments found anywhere on Earth. With the help of a mayor as well as a few powerful congressmen and senators, Borglum managed to raise private donations so that the construction of the mighty Mount Rushmore could begin in 1927.
President Calvin Coolidge ventured out to the Black Hills of South Dakota that summer and was properly awed by both Borglum and his magnificent vision. Coolidge returned to Washington determined to find federal money for the project. The government put in $250,000 in 1929 but it was still only about less than half of what would eventually be needed. The construction took 14 years and estimates of the final cost tend to come in around one million dollars or so.
Several hundred men were needed to work in several situations and a great deal of the carving of the monument was done by dynamite. Drillers and carvers were perched out precariously in chairs that were operated by pulleys, winches and ropes. Measurements were taken by using a large protractor and plum bomb. Red paint would outline the faces and features and then carving, drilling, and dynamiting would begin. All told, experts have suggested that around 800 million pounds of rock had been blown away to create the monument.
Borglum died in March of 1941 and Congress declared the project completed in October of 1941. With the threat of Nazi Germany, and a looming world war, Congress believed that any money they had would be of better use in a coming war effort.