Hall of Records | Mount Rushmore

High on a granite cliff in South Dakota's Black Hills tower the huge carved faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. This is the story of the man who created them.

Born in 1867 in Idaho to Danish immigrants, Gutzon Borglum was living in Paris when he found inspiration in the works of Auguste Rodin. Determined to become a successful sculptor, he returned to New York in 1901. He became famous and influential, but wanted to leave his mark on history. In 1925, he eagerly accepted an enormous new commission, carving the faces of four presidents onto a mountain. The project took fourteen years and cost almost a million dollars. Half a million tons of granite were removed from the rock face. Securing the federal government's support of the project was a feat in itself, but finances were just one of Borglum's worries. Although the supply of workers in 1929 was plentiful, few possessed the skills to carve the shapes out of the mountain. Borghum confidently predicted that the entire carving would be completed inside four years, which turned out to be over-optimistic. Money woes mounted as the Great Depression gripped the country, but Borghum's drive and vision inspired his workers to create what he saw as a great work of art. Seventy years after his death, the evidence suggests that he was right.

Worried that over time his work would lose significance, the sculptor behind Mount Rushmore proposed a secret room behind Abraham Lincoln's hairline, that would contain details of the work done on the mountain and of the society that created it.


Time Capsule at Mount Rushmore

On August 10, 1998, Mary Ellis Borglum attended a ceremony atop Mount Rushmore, which included the placement of a permanent time capsule containing copies of important documents and other artifacts related to American history and the carving of the mountain.

Why Mount Rushmore's Hall of Records & Time Capsule Matter