Fourth of July at Mount Rushmore

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  • DSC_0195.jpg - Each sculpted presidential figure has its theme: "Birth" of the nation by its first president, Washington; "Expansion" for Louisiana Purchase by Jefferson; "Development" of National Park System and building of Panama Canal by Teddy Roosevelt and "Preservation" saved the National Union following Civil War by Lincoln. DSC_0195.jpg - Each sculpted presidential figure has its theme: "Birth" of the nation by its first president, Washington; "Expansion" for Louisiana Purchase by Jefferson; "Development" of National Park System and building of Panama Canal by Teddy Roosevelt and "Preservation" saved the National Union following Civil War by Lincoln. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • DSC_0205.jpg - "Courage" is the middle name of all the dedicated maintenance personal who preserve and restore the mammoth Mount Rushmore monument. DSC_0205.jpg - "Courage" is the middle name of all the dedicated maintenance personal who preserve and restore the mammoth Mount Rushmore monument. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • DSC_0202.jpg - Label on the bottle of a popular wine produced in California features an artistic rendering of Mount Rushmore National Monument. DSC_0202.jpg - Label on the bottle of a popular wine produced in California features an artistic rendering of Mount Rushmore National Monument. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • DSC_0193.jpg - Sunrise casts a golden glow on the granite figures of four legendary American presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln at Mount Rushmore National Monument. DSC_0193.jpg - Sunrise casts a golden glow on the granite figures of four legendary American presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln at Mount Rushmore National Monument. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • DSC_0192.jpg - "First Light" of day softly casts its pink glow on the famed sculpted presidential figures atop Mount Rushmore, South Dakota. DSC_0192.jpg - "First Light" of day softly casts its pink glow on the famed sculpted presidential figures atop Mount Rushmore, South Dakota. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • DSC_0190.jpg - Only able-bodied and uniformed National Park Rangers are authorized access to the gigantic monument. Monument is off limits to visitors. DSC_0190.jpg - Only able-bodied and uniformed National Park Rangers are authorized access to the gigantic monument. Monument is off limits to visitors. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • DSC_0189.jpg - The first golden rays of sunrise illuminate the face of President Lincoln atop South Dakota's famed Mount Rushmore National Monument. DSC_0189.jpg - The first golden rays of sunrise illuminate the face of President Lincoln atop South Dakota's famed Mount Rushmore National Monument. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • DSC_0187.jpg - A maintenance inspector secured in a bosun's chair gets a closeup look at the gigantic granite faces of Mount Rushmore's famed presidential portraits. DSC_0187.jpg - A maintenance inspector secured in a bosun's chair gets a closeup look at the gigantic granite faces of Mount Rushmore's famed presidential portraits. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • DSC_0186.jpg - The scenic road to Mount Rushmore through the granite peaks and walls of the Black Hills of South Dakota. DSC_0186.jpg - The scenic road to Mount Rushmore through the granite peaks and walls of the Black Hills of South Dakota. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • DSC_0185.jpg - Granite debris from producing the Mount Rushmore presidential sculptures with dynamite and jack hammers still lies beneath the base of the famed South Dakota National Monument. DSC_0185.jpg - Granite debris from producing the Mount Rushmore presidential sculptures with dynamite and jack hammers still lies beneath the base of the famed South Dakota National Monument. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • DSC_0184.jpg - Closeup look beneath the giant six-story-high granite busts of the four renowned American presidents atop Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. They were the vision of sculptor Gutzon Borglum that became reality. Half-a-million tons of stone had to be blasted from 1927 to 1941 to complete the monument. DSC_0184.jpg - Closeup look beneath the giant six-story-high granite busts of the four renowned American presidents atop Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. They were the vision of sculptor Gutzon Borglum that became reality. Half-a-million tons of stone had to be blasted from 1927 to 1941 to complete the monument. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • DSC_0183.jpg - Iconic view of the granite faces of Mount Rushmore from the visitor's center outlook beneath the famed monument. DSC_0183.jpg - Iconic view of the granite faces of Mount Rushmore from the visitor's center outlook beneath the famed monument. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • DSC_0180.jpg - A maintenance engineer secured in a bosun's chair by rope and chain from atop the crown of an iconic sculptured presidential face gingerly inspects the monument atop Mount Rushmore. DSC_0180.jpg - A maintenance engineer secured in a bosun's chair by rope and chain from atop the crown of an iconic sculptured presidential face gingerly inspects the monument atop Mount Rushmore. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • DSC_0178.jpg - Often the first closeup view of Mount Rushmore's famed monument is this profile of George Washington on the approach to the national monument in South Dakota's remote Black Hills. DSC_0178.jpg - Often the first closeup view of Mount Rushmore's famed monument is this profile of George Washington on the approach to the national monument in South Dakota's remote Black Hills. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • DSC_0177.jpg - Maintenance engineers atop and below the profiles of Mount Rushmore's historic presidential sculptures maintain a year round vigil at their 6,000-foot elevation. DSC_0177.jpg - Maintenance engineers atop and below the profiles of Mount Rushmore's historic presidential sculptures maintain a year round vigil at their 6,000-foot elevation. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • DSC_0176.jpg - Portraits of four of America's most revered presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln sculpted from the granite of Mount Rushmore between 1927 and 1941 attract nearly 3 million visitors each year to the National Monument in the remote Black Hills of South Dakota. DSC_0176.jpg - Portraits of four of America's most revered presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln sculpted from the granite of Mount Rushmore between 1927 and 1941 attract nearly 3 million visitors each year to the National Monument in the remote Black Hills of South Dakota. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • DSC_0175.jpg - Sunrise basks the Mount Rushmore National Monument in its golden rays atop the Black Hills of South Dakota. DSC_0175.jpg - Sunrise basks the Mount Rushmore National Monument in its golden rays atop the Black Hills of South Dakota. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • DSC_0174.jpg - Six-story-high granite face of President Thomas Jefferson dwarfs maintenance engineer high atop Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. DSC_0174.jpg - Six-story-high granite face of President Thomas Jefferson dwarfs maintenance engineer high atop Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Photo by: Dave Bartruff
  • AtopRushmore.jpg - Photojournalist Dave Bartruff, Washington Times Communities contributing columnist atop Mount Rushmore by special permission. AtopRushmore.jpg - Photojournalist Dave Bartruff, Washington Times Communities contributing columnist atop Mount Rushmore by special permission. Photo by: Dave Bartruff

BLACK HILLS, SD, June 28, 2013 — Set high atop the remote Black Hills of South Dakota, iconic Mount Rushmore draws three million American patriots and overseas visitors a year to gaze at the stirring statement in stone described as America’s “Shrine of Democracy.”

This year’s two-day Independence Day holiday celebration, July 3-4, features four professional re-enactors dressed in the attire of the monument’s four American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.  The presidents will be accessible to visitors as they deliver programs, sign autographs and pose for pictures with visitors for their cameras.

A highlight throughout this summer again is the Evening Lighting Ceremony held in the memorial’s outdoor amphitheater that focuses on the accomplishments of its four celebrated presidents, American patriotism today and the historic development of our nation.

The 45-minute program kicks off with a ranger talk followed by a film: “America’s Lasting Legacy” and culminates with the illumination of the monument itself.

The National Park monument is located near the geographic center of the continental United States and is the world’s most colossal sculpture.  Its four presidential faces, each as tall as a six storied building, took 400 workers more than 14 years (1927-1941) to build by blasting away nearly half a million tons of stone. Its cost: a mere $1 million. Its primary sculpting tools: dynamite and jackhammer. 

Mt. Rushmore, the mammoth tribute to America’s ideals, was the culmination of a dream by one Gutzon Borglum, himself the son of Danish immigrants.  After much searching for the monument’s home, he chose one of the grandest granite outcroppings in the world: a perpendicular slab facing southeast that catches the sunlight all day long. 

Author poses atop Mt. Rushmore

And he chose as his subjects four of the nation’s most revered presidents to symbolize the birth and growth of America: Washington for the Nation’s Birth as its first president; Jefferson for Expansion through the Louisiana Purchase; Theodore Roosevelt for Development of The National Park System and building of the Panama Canal; and Lincoln for Preservation of the Union following the Civil War.

An “Insider’s Day” at Mount Rushmore

1. Ranger-led Programs (30 minutes): Join a park ranger for an interpretive talk or guided walk. Learn about the history of Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills. Free.

2. Sculptor’s Studio Talk  (15 minutes): Learn about the tools and techniques used to carve the mountain sculpture, through recorded stories of the workers themselves. See demonstrations of their tools and Borglum’s working model. Free.

3. Rent the Mount Rushmore Audio Tour:  Using a lightweight handheld wand, take a self-guided tour while sitting down in a pleasant spot. Visitors can walk around the park or follow the suggested route shown on a map provided. The recorded guide runs two hours and incorporates narration, music, interviews, sound effects, and historic recordings of Gutzom Borglum and his family, as well as workers and members of the American Lakota Tribe. There is a $5 individual rental fee, but a reduced rate for families.

4. Junior Ranger and Rushmore Ranger Programs (30-60 minutes):  There are self-guided treks for youngsters (accompanied by adult family members) ages three and up. Upon completion, young participants will receive a badge. Activity booklets are available at all information desks. Free. Junior Ranger patches available for purchase at Mt. Rushmore bookstores.

5. Presidential Trail. (20-40 minutes): A half-mile loop gives a closer look at the mountain carving and the natural beauty surrounding it. The train begins and ends at Grand View Terrace. Not accessible for everyone as there are 400 stairs to encounter twice during trek. Free.

6.  Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Heritage Village (10-30 minutes): Explore the history of the American Indian tribes who have populated the territory for thousands of years to learn about their customs and traditions. Enter a tipi (teepee), stroke hides of buffalo and other indigenous wildlife. Free.

Around Mount Rushmore

Experience Xanterra’s 130 years of park and resort hospitality in pristine and historical environments. Carvers Café features local bison burgers, a favorite for visitors. And the Memorial Team Ice Cream Shop is legendary.

Visitors with disabilities are especially well attended to.  Wheel chairs on site are available for free on loan on a first-come, first serve basis.  Elevators connect Grand View Terrace to the Visitor Center and Amphitheater. Carvers Café and Gift shops are wheelchair accessible too.

The National Monument is open to visitors year round except for Christmas Day.  The heart of the annual tourist season runs from May 12 through September 30.


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Dave Bartruff

California-based Dave Bartruff is an award-winning photojournalist who has traveled to more than ninety countries.

Column Description: “Faraway places with strange-sounding names” is my middle name.  I’d like to introduce myself to you as often as I can.

 

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