One of my favorite Hitchcock films stars Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint. It’s called North by Northwest. During the finale Grant and a very evil (well done, too) Martin Landau fight it out over and on the faces chiseled onto Mount Rushmore by sculptor Gutzon Borglum:
I will forever be in awe of the film and the monument because both artists created a true masterpiece that will stand the ages. I’d be the first to admit I miss the old restaurant and lounge (both were depicted in the film) replaced some seven years ago — I did see it on my first visit in 1988. So often nostalgia drives my choices as a traveler — so I couldn’t help but look for those same places. It took me only a moment to realize that time marches on and that the entire Rushmore complex has been updated.
But back to the monument. There’s now a wonderful museum that explains the how, why and the what that went into creating this colossus. Borglum was originally hired by South Dakota to sculpt the likenesses of western icons like Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp and others on the Pinnacles Mountains located near Mt. Rushmore. Recently fired from a similar project at Stone Mountain, GA he felt this project should really be more about the country and less about creating a South Dakota tourist trap.
He alone decided on Rushmore as his canvas and he also choose the four presidents. By giving this project a national profile he was able to persuade the federal government (thanks to the two South Dakota senators) to fund the project. He chose Mt. Rushmore because it was comprised of granite — a more durable material to work with although it took a lot dynamite to get to the stone is wanted to use. Below is one exhibit of models Borglum created as part of his preparation for the “real thing”:
Getting to the museum requires walking through a newly constructed gauntlet (it’s been here for at least seven years — new to me) saluting our 50 states:
Each pillar has the state’s date of entry into the union and its flag flown above it — this is my state:
I also suggest you view North by Northwest before you go — perhaps it will help you appreciate the monument even more. The finale will have you on the edge of your seat — as will this monument to four of our greatest presidents.