Turning a mountain into a memorial

KELOLAND.com Original

FILE – This March 22, 2019, file photo shows Mount Rushmore in Keystone, S.D. President Donald Trump will begin his Independence Day weekend on Friday with a patriotic display of fireworks at Mount Rushmore National Memorial before a crowd of thousands. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

MOUNT RUSHMORE, S.D. (KELO) — The word sculpture is often used in reference to the presidents’ faces on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial but it took more than traditional chisels and hammers to create those faces.

The head of George Washington is 60 feet tall, according to the National Park Service. His nose is 21-feet tall.

The eyes of Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln are all about 11-feet wide. Each mouth is about 18-feet wide, according to the NPS. Roosevelt’s head is slightly smaller than Washington’s and Lincoln’s is taller.

Mount Rushmore. The rocks in the bottom of the photo are among the 450,000 ton of rock removed from the mountain.

It took about 14 years to complete the faces, according to Encyclopedia Brittanica’s website. Hundreds of workers used dynamite, drills, jackhammers and chisels to carve the faces. Work started in 1927 and finished in 1941.

Workers removed about 450,000 tons of rock from the mountain which is still in a heap at the bottom of it, according to history.com.

Once dynamite had removed rock, the more detailed work started. Fine carving was done to create a surface about as smooth as a concrete sidewalk, according to the South Dakota Department of Tourism.

The drillers and finishers used bosun chairs to work on the mountain. A bosun chair has been made of a plank or thick canvas suspended by rope. They were lowered down the 500-foot face of the mountain in bosun chairs held by 3/8-inch-thick steel cables, according to the state tourism department.

Today’s bosun chairs are differently constructed such as with plywood cord seats and webbing straps.

The mountain is at an elevation of 5,725 feet. The memorial covers about 1,278.45 acres.


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