4 Oct: Carving Mount Rushmore

Sculptor Gutzon Borglum began chiseling the rockface of Mount Rushmore on 4th October, 1927 – the start of a 14 year project to carve Presidents Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and Roosevelt into the South Dakotan summit.

A team of up to 400 workers used dynamite, jackhammers, and chisels to shape the mountain into the iconic presidential faces, and to access the summit, built a staircase and ropes for support, working at dizzying heights of 500 feet above the ground. Remarkably, despite the dangers, not a single fatality occurred during the construction.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how Borglum hotfooted it to the project from a even more controversial one in Georgia; unpick the Lakota Sioux people’s legal disputes with the U.S. government over the land rights; and reveal why George Washington’s nose was even larger-than-life than the rest of him… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Sculptor Gutzon Borglum – Mount Rushmore National Memorial’ (U.S. National Park Service, 2023): https://www.nps.gov/moru/learn/historyculture/gutzon-borglum.htm

• ‘The Making of Mount Rushmore’ (Smithsonian Magazine, 2011): https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-making-of-mount-rushmore-121886182/

• ‘The dark history of Mount Rushmore – Ned Blackhawk and Jeffrey D. Means’ (Ted-Ed, 2022):