There’s an old political joke -- we first heard it during the Carter administration, but it’s been applied to every president since.
Q. Why won’t they add President ______ to Mount Rushmore?
A. There’s not enough rock for two more faces.
But there is a bit of truth to that. In fact, when sculptor Gutzon Borglum began his carving in 1927, he intended to put Jefferson to the left of Washington. In fact, crews spent time roughing in the third president’s visage to Washington’s left. But the rock surface proved unstable, and Borglum ended up blasting it off and starting again to Washington’s right.
Occasionally folks will ask how long the four faces of Mount Rushmore will still be visible. After all, even the sturdiest materials eventually succumb to wind and water.
Geologists estimate that the Mount Rushmore loses about an inch of rock every 10,000 years, so Mount Rushmore will likely be around for some time.
You would think that an international icon like Mount Rushmore would have been named for an individual whose contributions to the development of the West merited such an honor. Pikes Peak is named for explorer Zebulon Pike. Terry Peak is named for the Civil War hero Gen. Alfred Terry.
That’s not the case for Mount Rushmore. It was named for Charles E. Rushmore, a New York attorney who was sent to Dakota Territory in 1884 to do some legal work. One day he and Bill Challis were headed to back to camp, and Rushmore asked if that rock outcropping over there had a name.
Did you know there’s a secret tunnel behind the Mount Rushmore carving? Sculptor Gutzon Borglum’s grand plan was to create a Hall of Records, a large room carved into the granite rock face behind the carving. The room would be a place where future generations could learn and understand why these four men were honored in this way. It would be an indelible history of America, carved into granite.
However, his vision for the Hall of Records was not realized. Not completely, and not for more that 50 years.