Sculpting of Gutzon Borgluam's giant homage to four U.S. presidents—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln—began in 1927. Fourteen years later, Mount Rushmore National Memorial stood head and shoulders above South Dakota's Black Hills.
ROCK SOLID The granite that makes up the monument erodes at a rate of one inch every 10,000 years.
SUN SPOT Borglum chose the south-facing slope of this 5,725-foot mountain so that his sculpture would remain in sunlight throughout the day.
COSMETIC DETAILS Workers carved 90 percent of the monument with strategically placed charges of dynamite. They shaped the rest of it with air hammers.
PRESIDENTIAL SUCCESSION The bust of Washington was dedicated in 1934, followed by those of Jefferson (1936), Lincoln (1937), and Roosevelt (1939).
HOLLYWOOD STUNT While writing the screenplay for director Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest, Ernest Lehman tried—and failed—to scale the monument's faces.
DON'T FORGET THE EARS In 2005, the memorial received its first and only cleaning when workers spent three weeks removing dirt and lichen.
Photography by Paul Horsted /Alamy
This article was first published in March 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is located 25 miles southwest of Rapid City, S.D. (605) 574-2523, www.nps.gov/moru .