Mount Rushmore is a popular tourist attraction within the United States, and easily one of the most well known sculptures in the world because of the sheer scale of it. After all, the sculpture is actually carved into a mountain. So it’s definitely one of a kind.

But, despite being as well known as it is, there are still lots of facts about Mount Rushmore that not everyone knows. So we’ll be taking a look at some little known Mount Rushmore facts today.

1. Mount Rushmore’s Name Has Nothing To Do With The Sculpture

Some people find themselves confused by Mount Rushmore’s name, because it doesn’t really connect with the sculpture itself. But that’s because the mountain was named far before any carving was done.

It was named for a man called Charles E. Rushmore, an attorney from New York that visited the mountain in 1885. Upon asking someone what the mountain was called, he was told that it was never given a name. Then his informant stated,  “From now on, we’ll call the damn thing Rushmore.”

Thus, the name was born.

2. There Are Four Faces On Mount Rushmore

For those that don’t know, Mount Rushmore contains the likenesses of four former US presidents… George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt all have their faces immortalized through this iconic sculpture.

But despite how iconic this site is, many people forget which presidents are on Mount Rushmore. And thus, that’s one of the most commonly asked questions on the internet in regards to it.

3. There Was Some Debate About Which Presidents Should Make The Cut

Each president that is featured on Mount Rushmore is there for a specific reason. George Washington because he was our very first president, Thomas Jefferson because of his contributions to the country via the Declaration of Independence, and Abraham Lincoln for running the country during the Civil War.

But when it came to the fourth and final president to be featured, there were two names in the running. We all know the one that was chosen, Theodore Roosevelt. Who was ultimately picked because of building the Panama Canal. But Woodrow Wilson was the other contender, because of his leadership during World War l.

4. A Man Named Doane Robinson Came Up With The Idea For Mount Rushmore

Before any of the presidents were ever chosen to be featured though, the concept had to be created first. And we have a man by the name of Doane Robinson to thank for that specific contribution to Mount Rushmore.

He came up with the general idea for it, although he originally intended for the monument to be dedicated to important figures of the American west. Borglum, the sculptor he found to take charge of the project, changed it to be more centered around overall American history and presidents instead.

5. After The Idea Was Formed, It Took 18 Years For Mount Rushmore To Be Completed

From the time that the concept for Mount Rushmore was first pitched, to the time it was finished… eighteen years passed! Not all of all this time was spent actually working on the sculpture itself though.

Robinson pitched the idea in 1923, but the first drilling didn’t begin until four years later. And after that, it took many years to complete the sculpture itself. In fact, the original sculptor died during this time, and it was his son who continued to oversee the project until its completion in 1941.

6. Despite Sculpting Being A Rather Delicate Process, Dynamite Was Used On Mount Rushmore

Because of the scale of sculpting Mount Rushmore, small tools like jackhammers and chisels weren’t going to get much done. So, after trying that method for a few weeks, Borglum decided dynamite was the only option if he wanted to complete this massive undertaking.

So, the team working on the monument began using explosives to blast away the rock of Mount Rushmore. Then, they used the smaller tools to do the delicate carving after most of the granite was removed.

7. Surprisingly, Nobody Died While Working On Mount Rushmore

Considering the height, and the previously mentioned use of explosives, carving out Mount Rushmore was certainly a dangerous job. But not a single worker died while working on this project.

Part of this statistic seems to be due to good fortune, but the workers also took their fair share of precautions. For instance, they would wait to detonate the dynamite each day until all the workers exited the mountain for rest.

8. Due To Budget Restrictions, Borglum’s Plans Changed A Lot Over Time

All in all, almost one million dollars was spent in creating Mount Rushmore. Which was a massive amount of money during the time it was created. But, if Borglum had been able to obtain all the funding he wanted, it would’ve been a much larger amount.

One of the many plans that Borglum had to give up on was having the sculpture of the presidents be done from the waist up like he originally wanted. Instead, he was forced to only carve out their faces since the alternative would’ve cost too much money.

9. Borglum Even Planned On A Hall Of Records Being Built Inside The Mountain

Borglum wanted Mount Rushmore to contain information about American history, so that future generations would know why it was there. And when his first plan of carving an explanation into the mountain itself fell through, he drew up plans for a “Hall of Records” to be constructed within the mountain.

This idea had to be scrapped because of the aforementioned budget restrictions though, and all that remains of it is a small room where Borglum had already started blasting into the mountain.

10. Mount Rushmore Is Slowly Deteriorating

Despite all of the work, time, and money that went into creating the sculpture at Mount Rushmore; it’s slowly eroding as we speak. It’s actually estimated that Mount Rushmore will lose about one inch every… ten thousand years or so.

Therefore (although none of us will be around to see it) in about 2.4 million years, the faces of Mount Rushmore will no longer have their noses!

But one thing that Mount Rushmore is safe from, is human interference. Due to the Mount Rushmore Protection Act, the monument can’t be changed or destroyed without legal repercussions.

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Last Update: June 23, 2023