The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore in Pennington County (near Keystone), South Dakota, in the United States. Sculpted by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum, Mount Rushmore features 60-foot (18 m) sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents: George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). The entire memorial covers 1,278.45 acres (5.17 km2) and is 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level.
South Dakota historian Doane Robinson is credited with conceiving the idea of carving the likenesses of famous people into the Black Hills region of South Dakota in order to promote tourism. Gutzon Borglum liked the Mount Rushmore location for it had the advantage of facing southeast for maximum sun exposure. Although Robinson wanted carvings of western heroes like Lewis and Clark, Red Cloud, and Buffalo Bill Cody, Borglum decided the sculpture should have a more national focus and chose the four presidents whose likenesses would be carved into the mountain. These presidents were selected by Borglum because they represented the first 130 years of American history and because of their role in preserving the Republic and expanding its territory.
After securing federal funding, construction on the memorial began. Between October 4, 1927, and October 31, 1941, Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers sculpted the colossal 60 foot (18 m) high carvings of the four presidents. Over 450,000 tons of rock were removed from Mount Rushmore to bring out the four presidential faces. Although about 90% of the rock was removed by dynamite, the remaining rock was removed by drilling with jackhammers and wedging the rock off the mountain. The final finishing work on the faces was completed using small jackhammers and facing bits. The image of Thomas Jefferson was originally intended to appear in the area at Washington's right, but after the work there was begun, the rock was found to be unsuitable, so the work on the Jefferson figure was dynamited and a new figure was sculpted to Washington's left.
The presidents' faces were completed between 1934 and 1939. Gutzon Borglum died in March 1941. His son, Lincoln Borglum, took over construction. Although the initial concept called for each president to be depicted from head to waist, lack of funding forced construction to end in late October 1941. Below, you can see a photo of the large model (located at Mount Rushmore) Gutzon Borglum created depicting Mount Rushmore's intended final design.
On October 15, 1966, Mount Rushmore was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.