Two RV Gypsies: Full-Time RVers
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The two RV Gypsies
at Mount Rushmore National Memorial
August 18, 2013 and 1987)

History bookSome people, including members of the U.S. Supreme Court, think that the U.S. stole the Black Hills. In 1868, long before the carving began, the U.S. Government promised in a treaty to let the Sioux Nation tribes keep the Black Hills, including the Rushmore area. But in 1874, gold was found in those hills (and confirmed by Lt. Col. George Custer). After that, the U.S. Government and prospectors grabbed back the land and forced the Lakota elsewhere. On July 23, 1980, the Supreme Court found that land grab unconstitutional and ordered federal compensation of more than $105 million to the Sioux to settle the case -- but American Indian leaders said they would rather have the Black Hills. It is still unresolved.

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Welcome to SD - 1987 signs

welcome to SD sign
who is carved on the mountain

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is free. Sort of. Although admission to Mount Rushmore National Memorial is free, it cost the two RV Gypsies $10 to park in the lot. The faces of four American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln are carved from a granite mountainside high above the treetops of the Black Hills. Carving took 14 years to complete and cost $1 million. (The federal government paid about 84 percent of it). The chiseling was the least of the work. About 90 percent of the carving at the mountain was done by dynamite. Those blasts removed about 450,000 tons of fine-grained granite from the mountain.

Below: Karen Duquette by the sign in 2013 and the sign in 1987

Karen Duquette at Mount Rushmore National Memorial
1987 Mount Rushmore entrance

The Avenue of Flags at Mount Rushmore leads from the Concession Building to the Grandview Terrace. The flags of the 50 USA states plus 6 territories fly below the memorial; District of Columbia, Guam (a Territory), Puerto Rico (Commonwealth), American Samoa (Territory), Virgin Islands (Territory), Northern Mariana Islands (Commonwealth).

The Avenue of Flags at Mount Rushmore
The Avenue of Flags at Mount Rushmore

History bookSculptor Gutzon Borglum began drilling into the 5,725-foot mountain in 1927. Creation of the Shrine of Democracy took 14 years and cost a mere $1 million, though it's now deemed priceless. Borglum was 60 when he started work on the mountain in 1927. Borglum had devoted years to a Confederate commemorative carving at Stone Mountain. After his death in 1941 (the same year that Mount Rushmore was completed), he was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, Calif.

Sculptor Gutzon Borglum
news article about John Gutzon

The amphitheater below Mount Rushmore.

The amphitheater below Mount Rushmore
Elevation sign

South Dakota's Black Hills provide the backdrop for Mount Rushmore. These 60-foot high faces, 500 feet up, look out over a setting of pine, spruce, birch, and aspen in the clear western air.

Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore

The Avenue of Flags provides direct and easy access to the Grandview Terrace and Presidential Trail, a half-mile walking trail that offers spectacular views of the mountain sculpture. The two RV Gypsies walked the Presidential Trail as a great way to get a closer view and a variety of views of Mount Rushmore. The trail makes a loop from the south side of the Grand View Terrace to the Grand View Terrace and Sculptor's Studio on the north side.

Presidential trail sign
panorama from the viewing trail
Mount Rushmore Presidents
Mount Rushmore Presidents

While walking along the President's Trail, the two RV Gypsies saw two rocks leaning against each other and they ventured into the opening and got a great view of George Washington.

Lee Duquette at Mount Rushmore
a great view of George Washington

Just outside of the leaning rocks, the two RV Gypsies really liked the different view of George Washington.

George Washington on Mount Rushmore
George Washington on Mount Rushmore
George Washington on Mount Rushmore
George Washington facts

Each eye is 11 feet wide. The pupil of each eye is a 20-inch shaft of granite. When the sunlight shines on the flat end of the shaft, the eye appears to twinkle. The nostrils are only slight indentations in the rock. The shadows make them look hollow. Washington's nose is 21 feet long, the other noses are 20 feet long. Washington's mouth is 18 feet wide.

Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore

Thomas Jefferson is a do-over. At first, sculptor Gutzon Borglum put Thomas Jefferson on the far left. But after 18 months of carving, Borglum changed plans because the rock was weak, so they dynamited Jefferson off the mountain and put him on the other side of Washington. He carved Lincoln on the end where the rock would be more stable, and that is why Lincoln is so far away from the other three presidents.

Thomas Jefferson facts
the Presidents on Mount Washington

Theodore Roosevelt, the most controversial choice among the four Rushmore presidents, died only eight years before the blasting began. Theodore Roosevelt is not on a United States coin, unlike the other three Presidents.

Theodore Roosevelt facts

The two RV Gypsies glanced back at the Grandview Terrace and amphitheater seating from the Presidential Trail, and then they started down the stairs to the sculpture studio. This was a very strenuous trail. After completing the trail, the two RV Gypsies were exhausted and knew it was time to leave Mount Rushmore.

Grandview Terrace
a strenous trail

Park Rangers led an inspirational and patriotic program focusing on the presidents and the nation's history. The program ended with a film, veteran's tribute and lighting of the monument. Located in the park's outdoor amphitheater during the summer, weather permitting.

night shot
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After leaving Mount Rushmore in 2013, the two RV Gypsies pulled off to the side of the road for a "Profile Look"

Profile Look
Profile Look
Profile Look
Profile Look
Profile Look
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Below: Flashback photos from 1987

Flashback photos from 1987 Flashback photos from 1987
Flashback photos from 1987

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