Discover 10 Amazing Facts About Mount Rushmore

Written by Maura Hoff
Updated: November 14, 2023
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If you’re considering a trip to South Dakota, now is the time to add this vacation to your bucket list. South Dakota has so much to offer within the state. From Badlands National Park to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, plenty will keep you and your family busy during your trip.

Mount Rushmore makes a fantastic stop during a trip to South Dakota. It’s a memorial full of American history, and it’s also very kid-friendly. As you plan your vacation, take some time to learn the facts and history before you arrive. We crafted a list of 10 amazing facts about Mount Rushmore to get you started. Read on to learn more!

1. Over Three Million People Visit Mount Rushmore Each Year

Mount Rushmore national Monument Entrance

Mount Rushmore is a popular tourist attraction and receives over three million visitors each year.

©DurkTalsma/iStock via Getty Images

Nestled in the Black Hills of Keystone, SD, Mount Rushmore is a popular tourist attraction for travelers and history buffs. It was proposed during the 1920s to attract more visitors to South Dakota. This obviously worked, and the park now receives over three million visitors yearly.

The most popular months to visit are June, July, and August. Late spring and early summer are crowded but not as busy as the peak summer season.

2. Mount Rushmore Took 14 Years To Build

Mount Rushmore morning as the sun begins to light up the mountain range.

Mount Rushmore is located in the Black Hills in Keystone, SD.

©Gunther Fraulob/iStock via Getty Images

Impress your friends with facts about Mount Rushmore. Many people don’t realize it took 14 years to construct the entire memorial. Construction began on October 4, 1927, and was completed on October 31, 1941.

Sculptor Gutzon Borglum stated, “The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.”

Construction began with George Washington, which was dedicated on July 4, 1930. From there, Thomas Jefferson was sculpted and completed in 1936. They dedicated Abraham Lincoln in 1937, followed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1939.

3. Workers Climbed 700 Steps To Start Their Day

MOUNT RUSHMORE-The mountain under construction with Jefferson almost completed 1937

There were more than 400 workers who contributed to the construction of Mount Rushmore.

©Everett Collection/Shutterstock.com

More than 400 workers constructed Mount Rushmore. The work was dangerous and difficult, but jobs were scarce during the Great Depression. Workers had to sit in a sling drilled into the side of the mountain and work with heavy equipment and machinery while suspended in the air.

They also climbed over 700 stairs to reach the top of the mountain and start their day. There were no casualties during Mount Rushmore’s construction.

4. The Mount Rushmore Crew Had a Baseball Team

Home Plate and Infield of a Baseball Field

The Mount Rushmore amateur baseball team was The Keystone Boys.

©&#169 David Lee/iStock via Getty Images

The men who constructed Mount Rushmore were strong and capable of hard work. They also enjoyed playing baseball on the weekends. Workers with baseball skills were hired, and they eventually formed the Keystone Boys.

The team was good enough to qualify for the South Dakota State Championships and the semifinals.

5. 90% Of Mount Rushmore Was Carved With Dynamite

Distant View of Mount Rushmore in Black Hills forest South Dakota

Constructing Mount Rushmore was dangerous work. Workers often sat in suspended slings while using heavy machinery.

©Allen Allnoch/iStock via Getty Images

Dynamite was the main tool used during Mount Rushmore’s construction. They carved 90% of Mount Rushmore with dynamite. Workers used specific measurements to determine the amount of explosives. From there, fine carving created the iconically smooth granite surface. They removed more than 450,000 tons of rock throughout the construction duration.

6. Call Boys Ensured Safety During Construction

Lit up Rushmore above flags

Mount Rushmore is the busiest to visit during June, July, and August. Many choose to visit during the off-season, early morning, or late afternoon to avoid crowds.

©PapaBear/iStock via Getty Images

Workers on top of the mountain hand-cranked winches to lower and raise the suspended drillers. This was dangerous because of the height and dynamite explosions.

The Mount Rushmore crew hired young men and boys as “call boys.” The young boys sat on the side of the mountain and communicated with the suspended workers and men working at the top to communicate effectively and ensure safety.

7. Each Eye on Mount Rushmore Is 11 Feet Wide

Portrait of Abraham Lincoln on Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

George Washington’s head is the largest among the Mount Rushmore presidents at 60 feet tall.

©Ultima_Gaina/iStock via Getty Images

Each eye carved into Mount Rushmore is approximately 11 feet wide to put size into perspective. George Washington’s head is 60 feet tall and the largest among the presidents. His nose is 21 feet tall. Each president’s mouth is about 18 feet wide.

As one of the most recognizable monuments in the world, Mount Rushmore stands at 5,725 feet above sea level.

8. The Honeycombed Granite Was Very Desirable

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

The Mount Rushmore faces in order are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

©mcdonojj/iStock via Getty Images

During construction, the Black Hills’ honeycombed granite was desirable to visitors. Interested visitors often called the hoist operator and inquired about obtaining a piece of the rock. Hoist operators tried to tell visitors the rock was unavailable but would also haggle until they offered $6.00 to purchase the granite.

Selling granite for cash became a pattern. Whenever a visitor bought a piece of granite, workers replaced it with another enticing granite piece for visitors to purchase.

9. The Faces Were Originally Meant To Expand to the Waist

mount rushmore and american flag against a blue sky

Mount Rushmore construction was officially completed on October 31, 1941.

©Kurt Nichols/Shutterstock.com

Visionary and sculptor Gutzon Borglum originally planned to include the president’s bodies down to the waists in the Mount Rushmore design. This ultimately didn’t happen due to a lack of federal funding and timing so close to World War II.

10. There Is a Secret Room Behind Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone - 2018

Mount Rushmore is one of the most recognized monuments in the world.

©BrantleyHighline/iStock via Getty Images

The sculptor behind Mount Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, believed in leaving a legacy for future generations. He began constructing a Hall of Records in 1938 behind the carved heads to preserve information about the mountain and United States historical records. He even hoped the room would hold important artifacts like the Constitution.

Unfortunately, the federal government instructed Borglum to focus construction on the faces. Borglum passed away in 1941 before the faces were finished. His son finished the faces, and the government declared the project officially finished. The Hall of Records still exists but was never completed and is closed to the public.

Summary of the 10 Amazing Facts About Mount Rushmore

NumberFacts About Mount Rushmore
1Over three million people visit Mount Rushmore each year.
2Mount Rushmore took 14 years to build.
3Workers climbed 700 stairs to start their day.
4The Mount Rushmore crew had a baseball team.
590% of Mount Rushmore was carved with dynamite.
6Call boys ensured safety during construction.
7Each eye on Mount Rushmore is 11 feet wide.
8The honeycombed granite was very desirable.
9The faces were originally meant to expand to the waist.
10There is a secret room behind Mount Rushmore.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Ultima_Gaina/iStock via Getty Images


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About the Author

Maura Hoff is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is dogs, travel, and hiking. She has been writing for over 10 years and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Pennsylvania State University in 2016. When Maura isn't writing, she spends time with her husband and two Golden Retrievers, Basil and Sunny, in the Colorado mountains. Her passions are cooking, reading, music, and quoting her favorite show, The Office.

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