Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 128 (6/7): Mt. Rushmore Tour

We decided to take a bus tour to get a feel for what the Rapid City area had to offer.  It was well worth the money and we got to see some really cool things that we never would have found if we were driving ourselves.  It started out with a breakfast of pancakes, biscuits & gravy, and sausage fed to us on tin plates for a rustic feel.  We then loaded a Stage Coach bus that was a little banged up on one side.  That made me a little worried but I was telling myself that it was some other driver that had done that so no need to worry.

Our bus driver Dan had the MOST soothing voice I had ever heard. I think he could lull an insomniac to sleep.  He did manage to put Kerri and Cheryl to sleep.  I think I only drifted to slumberland for about 15 minutes.

Mt. Rushmore was our first stop among many others. We all stood and got our pictures taken at the massive monument. It took over 400 workers 14 years to carve the masterpiece. The workers climbed 700 stairs everyday to carve the granite of the mountain.  90% of it was done with dynamite and the other 10% was done with a tool called a bumper tool or hand facer. They earned only $8/day but any job during the Depression was a good job!

It's hard to believe that the heads are approximately 60 feet high, or the average height of a six story building. Their mouths are almost 18 feet wide with noses approximately 20 feet in length. We walked through the sculpter's studio to see a bronze replica of the monument.  Borglum made plaster models, like Abraham Lincoln in the picture. He would hang these for the workers on the mountain to feel as they used the bumper tools.  He told them close their eyes and feel with their hands because this was more accurate than sight. 

We took the walk around the Monument and we saw a little cave inside the rock.  It was a tight squeeze but the view was incredible looking up at Washington.  I would suggest to others that are going to the monument to walk up the stairs first on the path so go to the right while facing the monument first.  The stairs to the right are easier to get up than they were to get down.

At the beginning of the memorial there's an Avenue of Flags.  There are 56 flags on display consisting of the 50 states, a district, 3 territories, and 2 commonwealths of the US. We searched until we found both Wyoming and Kansas.

We went through 4 or 5 tunnels on our bus tour and I think that's how the bus got its' scratches because some of these were so narrow that I don't think I could walk through without touching the sides with my rear end!  Dan, the driver, was great about pointing out the views of Rushmore from these tunnels and even let us stop for photo ops. 

Mt. Rushmore was majestic.  You see it in pictures but it does not give it justice unless you see it in person.  Borglum died before he could finish the entire monument.  He wanted the chests of each president also carved in the mountain like the bronze replica.  He did begin another project called the Hall of Records where he wanted great history of works such as Franklin's electricity, telephone, the telegraph, radio and others to be housed.  Congress interceded when they found out he was not just carving on the faces and told him there would be no other work done except for on the faces.  The cave is to the right the faces and does house how placards of how Rushmore was made.

I wonder what this could be?  I think we got a little lost but from what I can tell it is the backside of Mt. Rushmore.

No comments:

Post a Comment