All photos by Dan Wentzel
For as long as I can remember, seeing the great Mount Rushmore had been a dream of mine. Since I was a kid it was among my most desired important accomplishments. For some reason every time we believed it was in our plans, something happened and the visit was once again delayed. Even after we finally saw it the rest of our vacation had to be put on hold as our dog became very ill so we came all the way back to Colorado Spring to care for him. Unfortunately, Mr. Owen was past help and crossed the Rainbow Bridge the day after we arrived in Colorado. I feel you must experience Rushmore because it cannot be just seen like a roadside attraction or a point on a travel itinerary. To be truthful it was a spiritual experience.
The culmination of a couple men’s dreams and lots of help from others both legally and financially resulted in the majestic vista you see now. It started with Doane Robinson who envisioned a massive mountain carving as a memorial. His chosen subject would have been heroes of the West. The next man of note in the project was US Senator Peter Norbeck. He went to Washington to make the proposal for the carving since not everyone believed it was possible. The other Senior Senators thought the idea wonderful and asked him to seek a sculptor for the project. That was where Gutzon Borglum came in. The sculptor politely demanded that the subject matter be something of significance to the entire nation. Thus they picked four great presidents to be portrayed in stone. You know them as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.
Gutzon needed to find the perfect site to erect such a large scale monument. I personally think the site for the monument had to be chosen with God’s guidance since it is the most perfect place. The site had good granite that was free of fractures. It also would be spotlighted by receiving full son much of the day. There was no progress until 1927 when Calvin Coolidge was welcomed by senators for a vacation in the Black hills. The Senator and others convinced Coolidge to dedicate the proposed project and show the public that it indeed was in progress. He pledged federal support for the project. That day the 60- year -old Borglum climbed to the mountain summit to drill 6 holes as a symbol of commencement of the carving. Work occurred on and off for 6 years. There were almost 400 local workers who needed the work and in the beginning it was just mainly a job to them. Lots of the work was completed with dynamite in order to remove large pieces of rock. They needed to remove 450,000 tons of granite. Using a scale of 1-12 inches they created a model, the final project produced heads on Rushmore that measure 60 feet tall.
The project was often delayed due to severe South Dakota weather and the constant problem of funding. Mount Rushmore Memorial was finished in1941 on October 31st. The project cost close to one million dollars and South Dakotans raised the money to pay for it.
Yes, for me I felt a spiritual connection to God as whenever I look upon his great works of nature and feel he had an important role in guiding the location and keeping men and women safe without losing any life to do an impossible task and create something so wonderful.