Monumental People

Learn more about the life of Gutzon Borglum and his other works. Lincoln Borglum was his father's right hand man and unsung hero of this project.

Doane Robinson 1856-1946

Doane Robinson
NPS photo

Doane Robinson is known as the "Father of Mount Rushmore." It was his idea for colossal carvings in the Black Hills. He wanted to create an attraction that would draw people from all over the country to his state. In August of 1924 he contacted Gutzon Borglum who was working at Stone Mountain, Georgia, on the face of Robert E. Lee. In his letter Robinson invited Borglum to visit South Dakota and talk over the possibility of carving a mountain. Borglum took Robinson up on his offer and met with him during September of 1924 and again in August of 1925. During this second trip Borglum found Mount Rushmore. From that point on Robinson worked diligently to secure funding for the project. Doane Robinson's idea was a success.

John Boland 1884-1958

John Boland
John Boland Family

John Boland became interested in the Mount Rushmore project through Doane Robinson in 1925. He was very active in raising funds. It was Mr. Boland that kept the Rushmore project from running up bills it could not pay. Trustworthy and hard working he was the one that had to handle the unpaid creditors until the treasury was replenished.

William Williamson 1875-1972


NPS photo

Congressman William Williamson was the driving force in getting money appropriated from Congress for the construction of the memorial. He was the one who convinced President Coolidge to come visit the Black Hills for a summer vacation in 1927. He also served as a member of the Mount Harney Memorial Society in 1925 until the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society was created by legislation in 1929. He served as secretary, vice-president, and president of the Society.

Peter Norbeck 1870-1936


SD State
Historical Society

Senator Peter Norbeck was a champion of Mount Rushmore and all of South Dakota. He was a political leader with a vision for the future of South Dakota. A tireless campaigner for Mount Rushmore, Norbeck orchestrated the political and legislative means to provide federal support in times when funding was difficult to obtain.

Charles E. Rushmore, the mountain bears his name.

Charles E. Rushmore

NPS photo



Dear Sir:

My friend, Mr. Lawrence F. Abbott, of The Outlook, has handed to me your letter to him of October 10, 1925, relating to the project of sculpting Rushmore Mountain, or Rushmore Rock, in the Black Hills of South Dakota; and, since then, I have seen a copy of your letter of November 28, 1925, to Mr. Julian Blount, of Redfield South Dakota, concerning the naming of the mountain.

No doubt it will interest you to have accurate data on that subject.

In your letter to Mr. Blount you say: "Rushmore Rock was named for Mr. Rushmore, a lawyer of Philadelphia who was interested in the Etta Mine." I am the lawyer in question, though of New York City, and not of Philadelphia.Late in 1883 the discovery of tin in the Black Hills was brought to the attention of a group of gentlemen in New York City and excited their interest. I was a youthful attorney at the time, and was employed by these gentlemen early in 1884 to go to the Black Hills and secure options on the Etta mine, and other cassiterite locations. My mission required me to remain several weeks in the Hills, and to return there on two or three later occasions in that year and in 1885. Part of my time was spent among prospectors at Harney, and at a log cabin built in that neighborhood. In my life among these rough, but kindly, men I conformed to their ways, and, may I say it with becoming modesty, was in favor with them.

I was deeply impressed with the Hills, and particularly with a mountain of granite rock that rose above the neighboring peaks. On one occasion while looking from near its base, with almost awe, at this majestic pile, I asked of the men who were with me for its name. They said it had no name, but one of them spoke up and said "We will name it now, and name it Rushmore Peak." That was the origin of the name it bears, and, as I have been informed, it is called Rushmore Peak, Rushmore Mountain and also Rushmore Rock.

Some time after the incident above narrated I was told that the name and identification of the Rock, or Mountain, was recorded in the Land Office in Washington at the instance of some of the good friends referred to, but I have never sought to verify this feet.

As you well say in your letter to Mr. Abbott this Rock is unique and lends itself admirably to a national monument of the kind you have suggested. I trust you may succeed in carrying out the proposed design.

Very truly yours,

Charles Edward Rushmore 
Hon. Doane Robinson,
Superintendent, Department of History
Pierre, South Dakota