Last updated: 09:00 AM ET, Wed September 21 2016

Celebrating 75 Years of Mount Rushmore

Destination & Tourism Janeen Christoff September 21, 2016

Celebrating 75 Years of Mount Rushmore

Photo courtesy Thinkstock. 

Seventy-five years ago, the nation welcomed Mount Rushmore’s sculptures as one of the nation’s most iconic landmarks — permanently putting South Dakota’s Black Hills on the landscape. 

The Chicago Sun Times reports that the original plan was to honor heroes of the west. 

“It was a historian’s idea: carve gigantic sculptures into the granite pinnacles of the Black Hills of South Dakota, significant Western figures like Lewis and Clark, Buffalo Bill Cody, Fremont, Red Cloud and Sacagawea,” says the Sun Times. 

“In the vicinity of Harney Peak … are opportunities for heroic sculpture of unusual character,” South Dakota Department of History Superintendent Doane Robinson wrote to a sculptor in Georgia in 1924. 

However, sculptor Gutzon Borglum had a different idea. 

“Burglum told Robinson ‘You are not thinking big enough. Western figures? That’s not going to attract enough people. You need to think bigger,'” Maureen McGee-Ballinger, the memorial’s chief of interpretation and education, told the Associated Press.

The article notes that, no matter whose idea prevailed, the memorial has put South Dakota on the map. 

“For the state, and the nation, Mount Rushmore is quite iconic,” South Dakota State Historical Society Director Jay Vogt said. “It definitely put South Dakota on the map as a destination … Because these are elected individuals on the mountain, who worked hard to preserve a nation whose creation was unique in and of itself, it really speaks to the idea that we are a country of free people.”

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Over the summer, the National Parks Service held commemorative events in conjunction with its own centennial celebration. 

For more on this amazing creative achievement, read on here