C & I exited the last tunnel on Iron Mountain Road and I could see the legendary faces carved in stone on the opposite mountain. We were driving through the Black Hills in South Dakota and heading towards Mt Rushmore to visit the holy shrine of democracy. Mt Rushmore is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country and attracts more than 2 million visitors annually.
The Memorial was planned to boost tourism in the Black Hills region and construction began in 1927. It was originally conceived with Wild West heroes preserved in granite but US Presidents were chosen instead for broader appeal. Story has it that each president was originally intended to be carved from head to waist but the project was stopped in 1941 with the completion of sculpture heads due to lack of funds. Today 60 feet high gigantic heads of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln adorn the granite face of Mt Rushmore from left to right. The Presidents were selected because they represent iconic eras in American history and had instrumental role in creating and preserving the nation and for expanding its territories. The memorial has become an iconic symbol of democracy and symbolizes hope and freedom for people worldwide.
Seeing the Memorial in person is an inspiring experience. The sculptures are gigantic against the vast blue sky and incredibly skilled works of art. The sculpture eyes are intricately carved. The Memorial is beautifully planned with parade of flags of all 50 states proudly fluttering in the wind and the year each state was admitted into the Union carved in stone pillars. Impressive posters provide information about each President, his contributions and accomplishments. Hiking the Presidential trail leads to the base of mountain sculpture.
The Memorial is located in Keystone which is a quaint touristy town with excellent dining and lodging options. Overall Mt Rushmore is good tourist attraction in South Dakota and can be seen in an hour or two. It is great destination to add on a South Dakota trip along with star attractions of incredible Badlands National Park, Custer State Park, Iron Mountain road and the Needles.
I visited Mount Rushmore National memorial, South Dakota in September 2012