Journeys from Home: Mt. Rushmore National Memorial

Learn about the Carving Process

By CyArk

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Standing prominent amidst South Dakota’s Black Hills are four of America’s most prominent leaders – George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson. The Black Hills, where Mount Rushmore was constructed were, and still are, considered sacred by the  Lakota Sioux, the tribe native to the region. Initially conceived by a South Dakota historian to feature the faces of both Native American and pioneer heroes of the west, the monument forever changed the landscape.

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Mount Rushmore by CyArkCyArk

Introducing Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Standing prominent amidst South Dakota’s Black Hills are four of America’s most prominent leaders – George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson. 

Talus slope

Below the sculpture are over 450,000 tons of rock generated during the six years when the mountain was carved by a team of 500 workers. 

Mica Schist

Underneath the sculpture of Washington is a darker band of mica schist, a stone that proved impossible to carve.

Carving Process

Skilled workers used heavy jackhammers to bore vertical holes in the mountain’s face. Powdermen then filled these holes with blast caps to remove precise amounts of rock—then, after the explosions, workers—in a process known as honeycombing—drilled holes horizontally.

Learn More

Assistant Chief of Education and Interpretation Blaine Kortemeyer describes the carving process.

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