Bonkoski's Alaskan Trip Journal 2008 travel blog

The four presidents of Mt. Rushmore, as we walk the Avenue of...

Only a portion of all 56 flags before the memorial

THe four presidents take up only a small area of Mt. Rushmore

Washington and Jefferson

Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt then Lincoln

Roosevelt and Lincoln

The tall Ponderosa Pine trees circle the mountain area

President George Washington

As we viewed the mountain from below...Washington and Lincoln

The large Amphitheatre at the foot of The Viewing Terrace

Looking out at the Black Hills of S. Dakota

The four Presidents "forever view"

A baby mountain sheep near the Memorial

The small scaled model of the presidents in Borglums studio

The profile of Washington, as the final carving peaks through the window...

This engraving is located underneath the Alaskan flag in the Avenue of...

Located under Michigans' flag on the Avenue

Rob at Mt. Rushmore

August 18th…Monday. The remaining three of us on this Alaskan trip, had never seen Mt. Rushmore. I did look forward to this day of witnessing more of American History and the story behind the faces of the four presidents carved into the granite of the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Five miles beyond our campground, we arrived at Mt. Rushmore National Monument. As we parked, we viewed our first encounter with this great site. Walking under the marble structure to get a closer glimpse, our eyes were constantly on the faces of these four great men of our nation. There Avenue of Flags was directly in front of us…56 flags to represent our 50 states plus six Districts, Territories and Commonwealths. We rented Audio devices as to obtain as much information as possible.

As we continued passed the placement of the flags, we arrived at the Grand View Terrace. Here one could capture more of the magnitude of the faces, their size and the lines and shapes of the carved granite rock. We listened to the voice on the device describe more and more of the story, the vision, and the man that was responsible for this magnificent American contribution to this country.

As most beginnings start, Mt. Rushmore was a vision of a man by the name of Doane Robinson. 1923 was the year and Robinson was a venerable and beloved fixture in South Dakota. He founded the state historical society in 1901 and served as state historian. His vision caught the attention of some people, and soon he contacted an already well renowned sculptor by the name of Gutzon Borglum.

After much time spent searching the Black Hills for the exact wall of granite for this type of project, Borglum decided that the already named mountain, Mt. Rushmore, would be the spot. He was cautious in his selection of Mt. Rushmore because the granite had to be soft enough, but tough enough to last through time, the forces of nation, and man. The project of one mans vision began in 1927. 400 workers, $989,992.32 in cost, dynamite, jackhammers, and above the Ponderosa pines, this grand colossus would be competed in 1941.

Borglum knew that George Washington, Father of our Nation, would be carved first. He erected a miniature model of his plan while inside his studio; soon to be replicated x12 up the side of the mountain. Next, our third president, Thomas Jefferson was chosen as he was the know as the Expansionist of our country. Set further back, behind the head of Washington; as he is the most prominent of the four. Each face is 60 feet tall. However, George Washington’s’ eye is 11 feet wide, his nose 21 feet long and his mouth is 18 feet across.

Abraham Lincoln, our 16th President, was considered to the “Preserver of the Union” . He was carved third, after Washington and Jefferson. The fourth President that Borglum carved was met with some controversy. Some felt that the selection of the nations 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt was too recent to be so honored. However, President Coolidge decided that “Teddy” had been the first president who had actively protected the rights of the working man. So the selection had been made of the four greatest presidents our nation knew at that time.

It has been called a “shrine” of democracy. As we spent the next several hours wandering with cameras in hand, and our trusty wealth of information from our Audio device, one could not escape the spiritual quality of this experience. A feeling of great pride! A feeling of freedom! A feeling of what it means to be an American!

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