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Mount Rushmore National Memorial


PIERRE, S.D. - The vision for Mount Rushmore National Memorial started with Doane Robinson, a South Dakota state historian, as a way to increase tourism to South Dakota.  

Robinson invited Gutzon Borglum to the Black Hills to consider the project and scout a location for the carving.  The Needles were the original location for the carving, but Borglum deemed them unsuitable for mountain carving. The location was then moved to Mount Rushmore, primarily because it was cast in light for most of the day. 

Congress authorized the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission on March 3, 1925 with the actual drilling beginning in 1927. It would take 14 years and over four hundred workers to complete the iconic carving; although, it was never completed as envisioned by Borglum. During the 14 years of dangerous mountainside drilling, carving and explosions not a single life was lost.

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial sits on 1278 acres of land administered by the National Parks Service. Mount Rushmore is South Dakota’s most popular attraction and draws approximately three million visitors to the state every year. The memorial is located in western South Dakota, off of US Hwy 16A near Keystone, S.D.

The Marks of History series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism designed to highlight historical markers all across South Dakota. Click on the special “Marks of History” link at to access the complete list of articles.

The Marks of History series is part of Goal 1 of the 2010 Initiative to double visitor spending in South Dakota from 2003-2010 and Goal 4 to enhance history and arts as a tool for economic development and cultural tourism in South Dakota. The Office of Tourism serves under the direction of Richard Benda, Secretary of the Department of Tourism and State Development.