Artist Gutzon Borglum had a serious worry throughout the 14 years he spent planning, designing, and supervising the creation of the Mount Rushmore monument. He feared that one day his work, which depicted the portraits of four significant U.S. presidents on a 400-foot-long by 500-foot-wide rock canvas, would be cloaked in mystery.
What exactly did we know about Stonehenge, Borglum argued? or the pyramids in Egypt? While Rushmore existed, entire civilizations may emerge and disappear, its history becoming ever more muddled.
Borglum proposed an ambitious addition: a sizable compartment located just behind Abraham Lincoln’s hairline that would house all the information anyone would ever need about the mountain. He did this to ensure that people in the future knew the history of his effort and the significance behind it. Even important historical relics like the Constitution and the Bill of Rights would be housed there.
The Hall of Records was what Borglum dubbed it. He ordered employees to start using dynamite in 1938 so they could carve what he thought would be the most intricate artist’s signature ever imagined.
The obnoxious, bold The most accurate evidence we have indicates that Borglum was born in 1867. He took pleasure in obscuring history and fusing disparate truths together for his own delight. Borglum, a gifted painter, anticipated a career in the fine arts. Sibling rivalry erupted when Borglum observed his brother Solon gaining notoriety as a sculptor; as a result, he realised he had much more to give when working with clay.
Borglum was asked to carve the faces of Confederate soldiers into Stone Mountain in Georgia after his modestly sized bust of Abraham Lincoln attracted national prominence. Doane Robinson, South Dakota’s official state historian, became interested in the project, which was never finished because of problems with the local administration. Robinson advised Borglum that a monument in the state’s Black Hills may serve as a magnificent canvas for a monumental work, which would benefit the state’s tourism industry.
The idea attracted Borglum. He explored three mountains before starting to consider the possibilities at Mount Rushmore. He would emphasise the contributions of four presidents—Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Theodore Roosevelt—who had a significant influence on the nation. Down to his waist, each man would be portrayed. There would be a huge inscription next to Washington that would list significant occasions in American history.
The six-story-tall faces that Borglum carved into the mountain’s east side were of particular concern to South Dakota and the federal supporters as they distributed funds. However, Borglum’s focus was distracted since, despite how ambitious the project was, he imagined something far bigger. He envisioned a public space with tablets outlining the work completed, busts of well-known Americans, and important writings like the Declaration of Independence. A 38-foot-wide, gold-plated eagle with a staircase constructed out of the blasted rock that was 800 feet long would be beneath anyone seeking entrance.
When Borglum finally started blasting out an entrance in 1938, the chamber started to take shape. A 75 foot by 35 foot area was entered by a doorway that was 18 feet tall; red paint on the walls indicated where and how to retrieve the rock. A honeycomb pattern was produced by the holes that held the sticks of dynamite.
The government, which had a finite amount of money to spend and thought the space was unnecessary, didn’t share Borglum’s desire. Peter Norbeck, a state senator from South Dakota, promised to send relief workers to help build the stairs because he wanted to. Federal funding wouldn’t need to be used that way.
However, Borglum wasn’t a fan of the concept. He received a portion of those federal payments, therefore hiring relief workers would not have netted him any money. In the hope that he could grease the required wheels, he pushed the senator away.
It’s possible that Borglum’s arrogance led to his demise. He was informed by Governor William Bulow that finishing the faces came first and that any auxiliary work could wait until later. Any miner could drill a hole in the mountain; the sculpture, however, required the imagination of an artist.
Bulow’s urgency was justified, notwithstanding Borglum’s claim that he was in excellent condition. The Hall of Records was not completed when Borglum passed away in March 1941.
Due to limited resources and time, the authorities deemed the monument to be mostly finished on Halloween of 1941. No further construction was done because Borglum’s ambitious plan for a trademark chamber would be expensive. Tourists can still not reach it.
His family wouldn’t just ignore the situation. Borglum’s heirs have been pleading with the government to finish the room in his honour for many years. Family members could finally gather in the space in 1998 to supervise the placement of many porcelain tablets that described the work done to the mountain. It was topped with a 1200 pound capstone and lowered into a hole in the room’s floor. The ceremony, which marked Borglum’s posthumous completion of his iconic work of art, was funded by the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society.
Borglum’s aim for the mountain and the room within of it is written on one of the tablets: