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Mount Rushmore

[ 0 ] July 31, 2005 |


Going to Mount Rushmore cost me $8, about an hour, and a fair amount of aggravation, but, hey, when am I going to be in South Dakota again?

It occured to me while observing the monument how fortunate we are that Gutzon Borglum didn’t have an affection for Andrew Jackson, William Howard Taft, or some other less than luminous president. Washington and Lincoln are incontestable, and Jefferson’s status as a Founder makes up for any deficiencies in his presidency. They have the wrong Roosevelt, of course, but I’m uncertain who would have been a better choice in 1924.

Interesting historical note: Gutzon Borglum’s decision to work on Mount Rushmore almost spared us the grim neo-Confederate nightmare at Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Borglum left Rapid City with great enthusiasm for the new Rushmore project and promises of support from Norbeck and Robinson. Reluctantly, he returned to Georgia to face the lingering problems of his Stone Mountain project. By February 1925, the confrontation had peaked; the Stone Mountain Association’s board dismissed the sculptor from the project and expressed its intention to hire another artist to complete the giant sculpture according to Borglum’s models and drawings.

Borglum was incensed. He rushed to Stone Mountain, ordered the destruction of his working studio models, then raced up the mountain and sent models of Lee’s shoulders and Stonewall Jackson’s head crashing to the base of the cliff.

What followed was a wild-goose chase by the Georgia police, who held a warrant for Borglum’s arrest. As they hightailed after him, according to Borglum, the deputies even took shots at his fleeing escape vehicle. In any event, while leading newspapers traded jabs over the affair, Borglum reached safe haven in North Carolina.

That monument, unsurprsingly, has served as a rallying point for the Ku Klux Klan since the 1920s, and earned a mention in Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

All about the heritage, I guess.

Anyway, Mount Rushmore is quite impressive. Trouble with my truck prevented me from visiting the Crazy Horse memorial.

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