4 October 1927

Gutzon Borglum begins the sculpting work on Mount Rushmore.


On this day in 1927, sculpting begins on the face of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills National Forest of South Dakota. It would take another 12 years for the impressive granite images of four of America’s most revered and beloved presidents—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt–to be completed.

The monument was the brainchild of a South Dakota historian named Doane Robinson, who was looking for a way to attract more tourists to his state. He hired a sculptor named Gutzon Borglum to carve the faces into the mountain. According to the National Park Service, the first face to be chiseled was George Washington’s; Borglum first sculpted the head as an egg shape, his features added later. Thomas Jefferson’s image was originally fashioned in the space to the right of Washington, but, within two years, the face was badly cracked. Workers had to blast the sculpture off the mountain using dynamite. Borglum then started over with Jefferson situated on the left side of Washington.

Washington’s face was the first to be completed in 1934. Jefferson’s was dedicated in 1936–with then-president Franklin Roosevelt in attendance–and Lincoln’s was completed a year later. In 1939, Teddy Roosevelt’s face was completed. The project, which cost $1 million, was funded primarily by the federal government.

Borglum continued to touch up his work at Mount Rushmore until he died suddenly in 1941. Borglum had originally hoped to also carve a series of inscriptions into the mountain, outlining the history of the United States.

4 October 1927


Gutzon Borglum start work sculpting Mount Rushmore.

Between October 4, 1927, and October 31, 1941, Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers sculpted the colossal 60 foot high carvings of U.S. presidents, namely, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln to represent the first 130 years of American history. It is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore, a granite batholith formation in the Black Hills in Keystone, South Dakota, United States. Mount Rushmore has become an iconic symbol of the United States, and attracts two million people who visited the place annually. It has also appeared in works of fiction and has been discussed or depicted in other popular works.