Best of America

Mount Rushmore Is Technically Unfinished—Find Out What It Was Supposed to Look Like

The untold story about the iconic landmark.

Courtesy Radio City Invention & Visitors Bureau
Believe it or not, among George Washington’s 110 handwritten “rules of civility and decent behavior in company and conversation” was one regarding proper facial expressions: “Let your countenance be pleasant, but in serious matters somewhat grave.” No wonder getting his “countenance” just right took nearly 14 years of hammering at Mount Rushmore—and even that wasn’t enough time. The design had called for Washington, Lincoln, ­Jefferson, and Roosevelt to be carved to the waist. But when Congress cut off funding in 1941 and problems with the rock face arose, the construction stopped.

Despite not ending up quite like designers intended, Mount Rushmore is still an architectural marvel. Its sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, made the finished product 60 feet tall and 185 feet wide. Originally, South Dakota historian Doane Robinson envisioned the monument carved into the Black Hills to feature figures like Lewis and Clark or Native American leader Chief Red Cloud. But Borglum had the final say and chose George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, presidents who represent arguably the most defining moments of American history.

Here are some more photos from one of the men that helped carve Mount Rushmore.

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