This photograph of Mount Rushmore’s Abraham Lincoln remains one of my favorite images. It was taken from the top of George Washington’s head, which shows just a little at the bottom right. The nose is Thomas Jefferson’s. Teddy Roosevelt is tucked between Jefferson and Lincoln but out of sight.
We were college kids working for the concession company during the summers of 1974 and 1975. The Mount Rushmore National Memorial park rangers told us if none of us climbed the mountain illegally during the summer they would take us up on top. We headed up at about 5:30 a.m. in order to be down before the tourists arrived. It is about a 25-minute ascent. You come up through a gully to the right and onto the faces from behind. The rock between Roosevelt and Lincoln is a walkway only about five feet wide.
Behind the faces, in the gully, is a cavern that was carved into the mountain. Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor, called this the “Hall of Records,” and he envisioned one day having historic documents like the U.S. Constitution displayed there. Of course, that will never happen.
The faces are 6o feet tall, the nose about 21 feet long and the mouth about 18 feet wide. They were originally to be full busts about two-thirds down the chest, but when Borglum died in 1941 his son Lincoln finished them only to this point because funding ran out. Note Lincoln’s collar around his chin. If I remember correctly they are about 450 feet above the visitors center, which is as close as most people get.
I hope you enjoy my image.
Photographer Chris and painter Robin Rohwer each week strive to share a painting or photograph that captured their interest in hopes that it will also capture yours. They have a small studio and gallery in the Emporium Center in downtown Knoxville where you can stop and see their work. Check ahead to see when they will be there, as they may be off looking for more inspiration. Their website is www.ChristopherRobinArts.com. Email them at [email protected]. If a particular piece interests you for your home or office, please contact them. All works are copyright protected.