Sunday, July 5, 2015

Mount Rushmore and its Secret(?) Hall of Records

Location: Three Flags RV Park (el. 3,650 ft); Black Hawk, South Dakota

(click picture to enlarge)
(all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia 929 cell phone)

I arrived in Black Hawk, South Dakota last Thursday after a short haul of about 100 miles. It will be a 5 day stay here which should be long enough to see some of the sights, get an oil change for Freedom and do a little maintenance. Black Hawk is only a half dozen miles or so north of Rapid City. 

One of the top items on my list of sights was Mount Rushmore. 
Interesting bridge with a
wooden sub-structure on
the way to Rushmore.
My family visited it when we lived in Mobridge, South Dakota but as a child I don't remember it at all. I only know we visited because I've seen the old (55+ years) pictures. It took about 15 minutes to get through the entrance gate where you pay the entrance fee. 
A tunnel on the way is expected
Even though it is a National Memorial and I've used my National Park Pass to get into other National Memorials, the pass wasn't accepted here. At Mount Rushmore, they are playing the Clinton game of "depends on what the definition of 'is', is". Entrance to Rushmore is free, but in order to enter, you must pay an $11.00 parking fee. 
The view while waiting to pay
the "parking fee".
The National Park Pass that I bought at Sequoia National Park is not good for parking fees. I knew about this before I arrived, so it wasn't a surprise and I've gotten way more use out of my pass that it cost to purchase, it's the principal of the thing.

Mount Rushmore was the brainchild of Mr. Doane Robinson in 1924. He wanted a mountain, in the Black Hills, carved into something that would attract tourists and their dollars to South Dakota. 
He had heard about a guy named Gutzon Borglum who was carving the likeness of Robert E. Lee (General; War for Southern Independence) down at Stone Mountain, Georgia. Mr. Robinson contacted him and commissioned him to carve Rushmore. Mr. Borglum began work in 1927. His original plan was to carve 
the likeness of 4 past presidents from the top of their heads to their waist. He also had plans to carve a map of the Louisiana Purchase with some important historical highlights of the country carved onto the map. Although he worked on the project for 14 years, he ran out of time to complete it. Mr. Borglum passed 
This is the walkway with all the
state flags represented. I
checked to see if Mississippi
with its stars and bars was
still flying. It was.
away in 1941 at the age of 74. His son, Lincoln Borglum, who had been helping his father during the work, put the finishing touches on the monument after his father death and declared the project complete.

The completed project is the busts of four past presidents. These four were chosen to represent certain parts of the American story. 

The crowds came as hoped
by Mr. Robinson
Washington for the founding of the country, Jefferson for its expansion through the Louisiana Purchase, Roosevelt for its preservation through his setting aside parts for National Parks and Preserves, and Lincoln for the country's unity during the Civil War. These carvings will be around for 10's of thousands of years. 
Spooky profile view of

Future generations and possibly future civilizations will be coming to view the faces on the mountain. 

But what if the future civilizations don't remember who the faces were or the amazing country they represent. If some cataclysmic earth changing event happens, most written history will be lost. Borglum thought about this and his solution was to carve a stone vault, behind the heads. This Hall of Records is 11 feet wide, 18 feet tall and 70 feet deep. The purpose of the Hall is best stated in Borglum's own words:
"Into this room the records of what our people aspired to and what they have accomplished should be collected and preserved, and on the walls of this room should be cut the literal records of the conception of our republic, its successful creation, the record of its westward movement to the Pacific, its presidents, how the memorial was built and, frankly. Why."  

He worked on the Hall between 1938 and 1939 before being stopped by the U.S. Government who was partially funding the project at the time. They convinced Borglum, that the Presidents were to be the top priority of the project and that he should finish them before doing any further work on the Hall of Records. Borglum reluctantly agreed. Again, time ran out for Borglum, due to his passing the Hall was never fully completed to his plans. Through the years, it was forgotten by many people and was never known about by others. The Presidents clearly overshadowed any partially built 'cave'. 

Fast forward to 1998 and the subject and purpose of the Hall is resurrected. A vault is cut into the floor of the partially completed Hall and into that vault is placed several items. Some of the items are: 16 porcelain panels containing copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, biography of Borglum and the story behind the Presidents and the country. These items, and others, are sealed in a teakwood box, which is placed in a titanium vault and is sealed with a 1,200 pound capstone. The Hall of Records is not open to the public and the picture I am using is from the National Parks webpage. The intent is not to be a time capsule with a set date to open, it is strictly for future generations or civilizations to know the history of the American "experiment".
You can see the sloped granite capstone on the floor.

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road. 

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