Mount Rushmore, Black Hills, Mt Rushmore National Memorial Park
13000 Hwy 244 #81
Keystone, SD 57751
Once Doane Robinson and others had found a sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, they had to get permission to do the carving. Senator Peter Norbeck and Congressman William Williamson were instrumental in getting the legislation passed to allow the carving. Williamson drafted two bills, one each, to be introduced to Congress and the State Legislature. The bill requesting permission to use Federal land for the monument was easily passed. The bill sent to the State of South Dakota was not going to be so easy. The Mount Harney National Memorial bill was defeated twice and almost a third time when on March 5, 1925 Governor Gunderson signed the bill. The Mount Harney Memorial Association was established by the Governor later that summer.
Early in the project money was hard to find despite Borglum’s promise eastern businessmen would gladly make large donations. He also promised the people of South Dakota they would not be responsible for paying for any of the mountain carving. In the summer of 1927, President Calvin Coolidge was in the Black Hills, and Borglum was planning a formal dedication of the mountain. Borglum hired a plane to fly over the State Game Lodge in Custer State Park where Coolidge was staying. As he flew by Borglum dropped a wreath to invite the President to the dedication ceremony. Fortunately Coolidge agreed to attend. On August 10, 1927 Mount Rushmore was formally dedicated. At the dedication ceremony President Coolidge gave a speech and promised federal funding for the project.
For the final two years of the project Lincoln, Borglum’s son, was in charge while Gutzon was constantly trying to get more money for the project. In March of 1941, as a final dedication was being planned, Gutzon Borglum died. With the artist gone and the impending involvement of America in World War II, finishing work on Mount Rushmore drew to a close. On October 31, 1941 the monument was declared complete.
Receiving permission to do the carving, finding funding and managing personalities were all a part of the challenge to establish Mount Rushmore National Memorial. At times it seemed harder to keep the project going than it was to do the colossal carving of the four presidents. In the end, cooler heads, charm, and determination saw the memorial through to the end. Mount Rushmore National Memorial has become a great icon of American history.