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Posts Tagged ‘Gutzon Borglum’

 “In old age one should do something mounmental.” — Xiao Qiam

Mount Rushmore -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

 I finally made it to Mount Rushmore. So much of my sight-seeing before I began doing it full time had to be squeezed in during trips from Utah, where I lived and worked,” and places where my kids lived, mostly Texas and Southern California. There was never time to detour through South Dakota.

Although I’m one who doesn’t believe Mother Nature can be improved upon, I still found this mountainous granite sculpture of four U.S. Presidents – Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt – impressive. To understand the size of these heads, with their 20-foot noses, one has to visualize them atop men 465-feet tall.

The retooling of the mountain, originally undertaken to attract tourists to South Dakota, took 14 years, and included the removal of 800 million pounds of stone in the process.

The man behind the sculpture was Gutzon Borglum, a student of renown French artist sculptor Auguste Rodin. Borglum was 60 years old when he began the monumental task, and sadly died just months before it was completed in 1941. His son, Lincoln Borglum, finished the politically controversial task his father had begun in 1927.

Some historians allege the monument’s underlying theme is one of racial superiority, a suggestion encouraged because of Borglum’s membership in the Ku Klun Klan. I admit that learning this bit of information dimmed my admiration for Borglum. But South Dakota thrives on the tourist attention it gets from the presidential memorial. And it’s certainly not an American wonder I would have wanted to miss.

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