In episode 067 of The Civil Engineering Podcast, I visit the Mount Rushmore National Memorial and will be telling you about the construction of this amazing monument, which is a massive sculpture carved into the side of a mountain in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. I will be talking to Maureen McGee-Ballinger from the National Parks Service as well as Lou Del Bianco who recently published his book: Out of Rushmore’s Shadow: The Luigi Del Bianco Story – An Italian Immigrant’s Unsung Role as Chief Carver.
Here are some of the questions I ask about the Mount Rushmore National Memorial:
- Take us back to before the monument, where did the idea come from?
- How do you budget for a project like this?
- How many workers were involved in the construction of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial and how long did it take to complete the project?
- Did the designer Borglum have any idea how long this project would take?
- Tell us about the stone itself and what they encountered while carving it?
- How were safety procedures implemented on Mount Rushmore?
- Tell us more about the actual construction of the monument?
- What did they do with all the rock that they blasted?
Here are some key points discussed in this episode:
- Mount Rushmore was named after a lawyer called Charles Rushmore who was traveling through the area in the late 1800’s and had the idea.
- Gutzon Borglum, lead designer, suggested where the statue should get carved. The work on the project began in 1927 and was finally completed in 1941.
- A local laywer said that people all over the state would donate for the project, but Borglum knew that these donations would not be enough and started pushing the federal government to get involved in this project.
- Around $250,000 was funded for the project, but it took around $990,000 to complete the whole sculpture.
- To our knowledge, It took about 400 workers 14 years to sculpt the monument.
- Borglum originally planned to sculpt 3 presidents, Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln and on the far right-hand side of Lincoln would have been an entablature in the shape of the Louisiana purchase and written in it was going to be the first 150 years of US history, the significant facts.
- After running into some trouble with the granite stone, they had to blast off all the work they did and move the sculptures around and then added Teddy Roosevelt. They redesigned this sculpture 9 significant times before they were satisfied with it.
- Nobody died during the carving of this project, which is really an amazing engineering feat.
More details in this episode…
About Maureen McGee-Ballinger:
Maureen McGee-Ballinger lives in Keystone, South Dakota and is the Chief of Interpretation at Mount Rushmore as well as the Park Public Information officer at the National Memorial National Park Service.
This episode is brought to you by PPI, the leader of civil engineering FE or PE exam preparations. Use promo code PREP and enter the raffle here: www.ppi2pass.com/civilprep
Books Mentioned in this Episode:
Please leave your comments or questions in the section below on the construction of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success