Work Begins on Mount Rushmore

U.S. #2523 – Mount Rushmore was sculpted with artful science. Huge portions of rock were blown away with surprising accuracy to lay out the rough features of each face.

Work Begins on Mount Rushmore

On October 4, 1927, Gutzon Borglum began sculpting Mount Rushmore in South Dakota’s Black Hills.

In 1923, historian Doane Robinson recognized the amount of tourism generated by Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks for their respective states. This gave him idea to sculpt a mountain to promote tourism in South Dakota. Robinson’s initial vision was to honor heroes of the American West such as George Armstrong Custer, Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and the Sioux Chief Red Cloud.

U.S. #4268 – Once the general shapes were formed, workers hung by cables to drill and chisel the smooth features. Despite the dangerous nature of the project, no one died in the 14 years it took to carve Mount Rushmore.

Robinson needed a capable sculptor to carry out his idea. He had read about Gutzon Borglum’s work on Stone Mountain in Georgia and asked him to come to South Dakota. At the time of his first view of Mount Rushmore in 1924, Borglum said, “America will march along that skyline.” Although he agreed to do to the project, Borglum wanted the monument to honor more than the American West. Instead, he suggested it represent 150 years of American history. He chose George Washington (“Father of our Country”), Thomas Jefferson (author of the Declaration of Independence), Teddy Roosevelt (opened the waters between the East and the West with the Panama Canal), and Abraham Lincoln (preserved the Union in one of our nation’s darkest times and brought equality to all) for their profound impact on the shaping of America.

Item #CNSDMR25D – National Park quarter pictures workers adding final details to Thomas Jefferson’s face.

With Borglum on board, Robinson needed to get the project approved. Senator Peter Norbeck and Congressman William Williamson were the driving forces behind getting the legislation passed to permit the carving. After extensive lobbying, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission was approved on March 3, 1925. It was then dedicated on August 10, 1927, with President Calvin Coolidge in attendance, promising funding for the project.

Borglum then met with Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon to convince him of the project’s importance and get his support for funding. Mellon agreed to fund the entire project, but Borglum said he would only need half the money, as the rest could be raised privately. The resulting bill authorized the government to match funds up to $250,000.

Construction on the mountain began on October 4, 1927. Borglum and his team of 400 workers sculpted the 60-foot carvings, which peak at 5,725 feet above sea level. The project was plagued by issues ranging from budgetary concerns to the quality of rock. Borglum’s son Lincoln took over the project in 1939 while his father sought more funding, and then further in 1941 when Gutzon passed away. The sculptures were completed on October 31, 1941. Since then, a Presidential Trail, Visitor Center, and Museum have been added to the mountain.

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11 responses to "Work Begins on Mount Rushmore"

11 thoughts on “Work Begins on Mount Rushmore”

  1. A great story! Thank you, Mystic, for your work. The history of our country is always very interesting, and stamp collecting ads to the enjoyment.

  2. Interesting, but the project did not end in 1941. Construction was halted due to the war. Originally, the figures were to be shown from the waist up. After the war, funding dried up.

  3. I look forward to a mini history lesson everyday. When I was a young boy collecting stamps, pre-internet, I would look up in my encyclopedia where the country was and what the stamp was commemorating. I learned so much about geography and world history, hence my mini history lessons from collecting stamps. That is why enjoy reading your daily day in history with the commemorated stamps. In the future perhaps you could include global histrical events as well. Thanks love reading them!

  4. Dear Mystic Stamp Company
    I have never read a more informative piece anywhere on Mount Roushmore.
    I hope that your “This Day in History” is available to all students at every level.
    Please keep up the great work!
    Thomas Roy Harney

  5. A stamp should be made of Louigi Del Bianco the chief carver of Mount Rushmore. Without him the project would not have been completed as it were and not been as perfect as it is. His major part in the monument is proven in a book deeply researched by his grandson Lou Del Bianco. The name of the book is “Out of Rushmore’s Shadow” by Lou Del Bianco. He goes into great detail with over thirty years of hard research to prove with facts of his grandfathers major contribution to the project.


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