Eye on KELOLAND: Mount Rushmore celebrates 80 years

Eye on KELOLAND

MOUNT RUSHMORE, S.D. (KELO) –The famous Mount Rushmore Memorial is celebrating its 80th anniversary of being completed.

Connor Delaney and his wife Victoria are visiting all the way from New York.

“We came to Mount Rushmore because we’ve never been to South Dakota before and it’s a place that we had to see before we left the state,” Victoria Delaney, visitor from New York, said.

The two say this will not be their last visit to the monument.

“We have a bunch of friends and family that are into this nature type of stuff so this is beautiful. But we could camp out here maybe not in the wintertime but for sure summer, but yeah I would definitely come back with my friends and family,” Connor Delaney said.

Lathan Lauing is originally from Hot Springs, not too far from the monument. While he lives in Kansas now.. he always makes sure to bring his family and friends to Mount Rushmore when he visits.

“Just being from here originally, it’s neat that we have a monument, we have something that many people from outside our state and even outside of our nation can recognize us from. It’s pretty cool to have Mount Rushmore to call ours as a South Dakotan,” Lathan Lauing, visitor from Kansas, said.

And this is a great time to visit.

“The 80th anniversary of the completion of the carving is one of those milestones that we celebrate the 80th of anything. My parents are turning 80 so it’s a big deal,” Blaine Kortemeyer, Mount Rushmore Chief of Interpretation, said.

Gutzon Borglum began carving Mount Rushmore in 1927 and stopped in 1941 when he died.

Since then, construction projects at the memorial have gone on to preserve and upkeep the entire area.

“The property feels more inviting for our visitors,” Kortemeyer said.

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial sees about 3 million visitors from across the world each year.

“This last year South Dakota had a boom in tourism industry. We are right about 3.2 for this last season which pre-COVID is a typical busy year for the memorial,” Kortemeyer said.

Visitors, including the Delaneys and Lauing, say they hope to come back again soon.

“I think it’s something that still never really loses its touch. It’s fun to see people’s reaction if they’ve never seen it before so that’s something that’s become enjoyable throughout the years. It’s just a cool experience time and time again to come back and the people just make it more enjoyable,” Lauing said.

“They remember time periods in our nation’s upbringing if you will that we can look back at and remember where we came from. But also don’t let that be a boundary for our nation. Our nation needs to grow from here, needs to move on, needs to advance in many ways,” Kortemeyer said.

After reaching this milestone, these Mount Rushmore visitors and staff are looking forward to what the next 80 years bring.

Gutzon Borglum died following a surgery in March of 1941. The carving of Mount Rushmore was handed down to his son, Lincoln, to add finishing touches.

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