Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mount Rushmore is Closed, But...

Mount Rushmore is a National Monument.  Therefore, Mount Rushmore is closed.  However, I am pleased to say that we were able to see it today from a distance, and even view it from several angles.

We only broke the rules a little, by pulling over at the entrance to the park to take a look.  We were parked there taking pictures until the armed park guards chased us away.  Perhaps those guys were the essential government employees that still have to come to work.

Unbelievably, the pull-off areas along the road near the park were blocked with traffic cones, and so those areas were unavailable for safe stopping and looking.  Why?  I have no idea.  What could be wrong with all those tourists who had carefully saved their money all year just to come to this place to see this monument being able to see what they came to see?


Prior to our drive by of the monument, we stopped to explore the Borglum Historical Center in Keystone, just two miles from Mount Rushmore.  In this museum we ventured into the world of Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore.

A Borglum sculpture completed before the Mount Rushmore project
We learned about the artist, his family and friends, and saw many of the sculptures he created throughout his life, before he even began the Mount Rushmore project.  Although photos were not allowed in the building, I was able to take pictures of several large Borglum sculptures outside.

Borglum's famous Seated Lincoln piece
A film showed Borglum and his crew working on the face of the monument in seats hung from thin cables.  We watched actual footage of some of the blasting and sculpting of the granite.

Probably the most fascinating part of the exhibit for me was standing alongside the full-sized eye of Lincoln, an exact replica of the eye on the mountain.  It was eight feet across and seemed immense.

Apparently, when sculptor Gutzon Borglum looked upon the knobby, cracked face of that hillside there in the Black Hills of South Dakota, he saw a vision of four United States presidents carved into the mountain - Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln.

Beginning at the age of 60, between 1929 and 1941, with the help of over 400 workers and several influential politicians, Borglum began carving a memorial to the history of America.

The silhouette view of President Washington
It was truly a moving sight to see.  According to Borglum (in 1930), "...let us place there, carved high, as close to heaven as we can, the words of our leaders, their faces, to show posterity what manner of men they were.  Then breathe a prayer that these records will endure until the wind and rain alone shall wear them away."

Later, after a brief stop for lunch and a bit of shopping back in Keystone, we boarded an 1880 steam powered train for a pleasant, although a bit bumpy, ride from Keystone to Hill City, South Dakota.

Adding water to the engine prior to our ride
This vintage steam train ride was about one hour long and took us on a ten mile trip through the Black Hills National Forest.  

We passed through many areas where there was evidence of long ago mining villages.

All along the way we saw plenty of white tailed deer, mule deer and large turkeys.  (Earlier in the day on our way to Mount Rushmore, we saw two large elk up in the hills.)

It was a full, yet satisfying day here in the Black Hills.  Lot of fascinating history, and more to come tomorrow.


  1. This just makes me sick! A National Park should NEVER be closed. So sorry you can't enjoy it up close and personal.

  2. Glad you at least got some photos of it, even if it was from a distance. My son was up there a few months ago and thought it was awsome. I have never seen it in person.

  3. At least you got some great pictures from a distance. I thought many of the pull overs in the mountains had some very special views of MT Rushmore.

  4. Great pics of Mt. Rushmore. We enjoyed the pullover views better than the ones from inside the actual park grounds.

  5. I agree with Rick - I like the pullover views better. But I just don't understand why you couldn't stop at the gate or the pullouts to take pictures. Armed guards???? Ridiculous.

  6. "Armed guards". That would be amusing if it weren't well...sad.
    I think perhaps they're being a little spiteful, just to try and get everyone riled up?

  7. I agree with Bob. Somebody carefully chose what to close, and who to furlough, based on how much attention it would bring. Furlough a bunch of mundane office workers that nobody knows about? . . . No, close the National Parks . . . now THAT will get some attention!