In anticipation of the July 4th National holiday, this week we feature Mount Rushmore National Memorial. National Memorials differ from National Parks in that they feature specific objects of cultural or historical significance, rather than being solely places of natural, scenic, and recreational value. Mount Rushmore, being a significant cultural monument carved out of the granite of the Black Hills of South Dakota, is also located in a place of scenic and natural value, seated as it is in the beautiful wilds of the western part of the state.
The carving of the four Presidential busts (Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Lincoln) was a 14 year-long project completed in 1941. 400 workers removed over 450,000 tons of rock to create the 60-foot-high sculpted images. A photo gallery of Mt. Rushmore can be accessed here.
Though it is a national monument, its creation was controversial and remains so today. Lakota Sioux had been promised in a treaty to be given the land as a place to live undisturbed until gold was discovered in the area, and they were forced off the land. The Black Hills are sacred to the Lakota Sioux, and they consider the monument a desecration of their ancestral lands.