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Which One Is President Rushmore?

Off to do Mt. Rushmore again, we were out the door by 10am, with a stop in town at Wendy’s for a little early lunch since we wouldn’t be eating dinner until about 5pm.




Our first stop, a little before 11, was the Mt. Rushmore Monument itself. Although the monument admission is free, parking is $10, but for seniors, it’s only $5. Nice.

Walking up to the memorial area, the view down the Avenue of Flags is really impressive, framing the mountain perfectly.

Mt Rushmore Framed

And it’s interesting to see all the talus that was left over from the carving.

Mt Rushmore Full

A couple of days ago, I thought to ask Google who Mt. Rushmore was named for. Was it already named, or was it named for someone after it was finished?

Turns out it was named for Charles Rushmore when he visited the area in 1885. A New York lawyer, he was in the area checking titles for mining claims. When he asked his guide, Bill Challis, what the name was of that mountain, Bill said that it didn’t really have a name, but from now on, they would call it Mt. Rushmore.

Here’s what it looked like at the time.

Mt Rushmore Before

And over the following years when Rushmore returned on hunting trips every year, everyone kept calling it Mt. Rushmore, until the US government finally recognized the name in 1930, 3 years after the carving had begun. And later, Rushmore made the first large donation, of $5000, to help fund the carving.

But because of this name, apparently the most asked question of Park Rangers at Mt. Rushmore is, “Which one is President Rushmore?” It would have been a lot better I guess if his name had been Charles Washington rather than Charles Rushmore.

I was interested to find out that a lot of things changed along the way during carving. Originally Jefferson’s head was to the right of Washington, but during the carving it was discovered that the rock was in bad shape, so the partially completed head of Jefferson was dynamited and restarted to Washington’s left.




I guess this kind of answers a question I had about the order of the heads. I mean it’s not alphabetical, and it’s not by order of presidency. Otherwise it would be Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and then Roosevelt. So now it sounds like it may be because of what face would fit in what area.

And I was also surprised to learn that originally the figures were supposed to be carved from the waist up, not just the heads, but they ran out of money, Guess they were glad they were working from the heads down, and not the waists up. Otherwise we might have ended up with something like this.

Mt Rushmore from Behind

Yesterday, in the middle of dark storm clouds and occasional heavy rains, we drove many of the roads in the area.

Mt Rushmore 02

We also got this side view of President Washington

Mt Rushmore 05

Later we headed south down to Custer State Park to drive the Needles Highway, including several more tunnels.

Mt Rushmore 08

Along the way we pass through the most famous of the tunnels, the Needles Eye Tunnel

Mt Rushmore 09

Mt Rushmore 10

Today after leaving the monument, we headed east on 16A to drive Iron Mountain Rd. Along the 18 miles there are 314 curves, 14 switchbacks, 3 tunnels and 3 pigtails. In case you haven’t encountered a pigtail before, it looks like this.

Iron Mountain Pigtail

It’s a complete loop, and in fact turns back under itself.

At the bottom of the Iron Mountain, we turned south on the 18 mile Wildlife Loop. Very scenic, but for a long while this guy was all the ‘wildlife’ we saw.

Buffalo 1

But finally coming over a rise we found 100’s of  buffalo, so many and so spread out, that I couldn’t get them all in the frame.

Buffalo 3

Buffalo 4

And as you can see there were a lot of new calves.

Buffalo 2 Twins

Then a few more  miles down the loop we came  across these fellows, though I’m not exactly sure you can call them ‘wild’ life.

Burros 1

Burros 2

They seemed to being used to being feed.

And except for some whitetail deer, that was about it for the wildlife on the Wildlife Loop.



Coming back toward Mt. Rushmore, we drove back up Iron Mountain Rd., enjoying the highlighted view of Mt. Rushmore through two of the three tunnels.

Mt Rushmore First Tunnel

But the third one, the most impressive, I didn’t get because my camera focused on the windshield so the monument was blurry. Sorry.

Finally heading back toward Rapid City, we made stop at Dinosaur Park, located on the highest hill/mountain? in Rapid City. Built by the city in 1936 to capitalize on the tourists coming to the area to see the carving in progress, it’s been a landmark ever since.

In  fact Jan remembers coming here when she was 7 and her father was stationed at Ellsworth AFB, and she was looking forward to seeing it again.

Al least until she saw the stairs leading up to the top.

Dinosaur Park 1

She said, “I don’t remember any stairs like that.”

I told her, “You were 7. You probably just run up them like they weren’t even there.”

She then retorted, “Well, they’re there now so I’m staying here.”

So I made the trudge to the top.

Dinosaur Park 2

Dinosaur Park 3

Dinosaur Park 5

Dinosaur Park 4

The things I do so  you blog readers don’t have to .

Leaving Dinosaur Park we headed over to the nearby Famous Dave’s BBQ to meet Wil and Cyndy Olsen.

Wil and Cyndy work with Adventure Caravans helping guide RV’ers around the country so we’ve bumped into them at a number of rallies along the way. But this the first time we’ve really had a chance to sit down and spend some time with them.

And what better way to do it than over Famous Dave’s Ribs. Cyndy got the Chicken, while Jan and Wil both got the full rack of St. Louis ribs.

Famous Dave's Jan's Full Rack

I stuck with my usual three meat combo, with St. Louis ribs, Hot Link Sausage,and Burnt Rib Tips. And as you can probably tell we all had plenty to take home.

Famous Dave's New 3 Meat Combo

It’s hard to beat Famous Dave’s, especially with friends like Wil and Cyndy.

Wil and Cyndy Olsen

And what’s funny about this photo is that the people at the table behind them are also RV’ers, thought we didn’t know each other.

Passport America, Save 50% on Campsites

Saying our goodbyes and safe travels, they headed to Safeway while Jan and I made a Wal-Mart stop before finally getting back to the rig a little before 8pm.

A really nice day.

We have originally planned to see the South Dakota Air & Space Museum, but ran out of  time. We’ll see how tomorrow goes.



Thought for the Day:

The most expensive thing in the world is a cheap Army and Navy. – Carl Vinson

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2 Responses to Which One Is President Rushmore?

  1. Mike Resnick says:

    Hi Greg: Thanks for the shot of the “backside” of Mt. Rushmore. That was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a very long time!! Thanks for the laughs!! Safe travels. Mike

  2. Georgina Lentini says:

    Thanks so much for taking us on your travels (and all the ‘sacrifices’ you make). Now I definitely have to get there myself in the fall. Love the …er… backside view. Safe travels.. keep ’em coming!

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