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Is There a Fifth Face on Mount Rushmore?

If you’ve ever been to Mount Rushmore or seen photos of the massive carvings of the Presidents, you might have wondered about the secrets and controversies surrounding this national memorial. Is there a hidden chamber?

Why doesn’t President Roosevelt have glasses? Is there a fifth face? Why do Native Americans have protests about it? The list goes on and on.

But let’s tackle one of these questions: Is there a fifth face on Mount Rushmore? Let’s dive in!

What Is Mount Rushmore? 

Completed in 1941, Mount Rushmore is a memorial honoring four Presidents and preserving the ideals they represent. Carved into the rockface of a mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota, these four presidents’ heads are 60 feet high. 

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln represent the birth, growth, development, and preservation of America.

Where Is Mount Rushmore?

Located in Pennington County, South Dakota, Mount Rushmore National Memorial overlooks the Black Hills near the city of Keystone. The Visitor Center is easily accessible from Highway 244, which runs west-to-east connecting Highway 385 to Highway 16A. 

The Black Hills National Forest is just south of Interstate 90 in southwestern South Dakota and includes the cities of Custer, Deadwood, and Silver City.

Who Created Mount Rushmore?

Sculptor Gutzon Borglum designed the memorial and oversaw the project from 1927 until his death in 1941. His son, Lincoln Borglum, completed the memorial just a few months after Gutzon’s death. 

Gutzon Borglum was chosen as the sculptor because of his past successes. He had won an equestrian statue competition with his sculpture of the Civil War General Philip Sheridan that stands in Washington, D.C. He also helped in the carving of Stone Mountain in Georgia. 

South Dakota state historian Doane Robinson chose Borglum to be the mastermind behind Mount Rushmore to bring tourism to the state.

Pro Tip: If you want to camp in your RV while visiting the Black Hills, make sure you know The Realities of Mount Rushmore RV Camping.

Mount Rushmore from entrance
Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota is a must-see tourist spot.

Is There a Fifth Face on Mount Rushmore?

Borglum chose the four Presidents that form Mount Rushmore because of the critical periods in which they led the United States. George Washington was the father of a new nation and laid the foundation for democracy. Thomas Jefferson doubled the size of the country when he purchased the Louisiana Territory. 

Theodore Roosevelt represents the development of America with his fight to end monopolies and ensure the rights of common people. Finally, Abraham Lincoln preserved a nation torn in two during the Civil War. 

There is no fifth face on Mount Rushmore.

Who Would Have Been the Fifth President on Mount Rushmore? 

As far as we know, there were never any plans to include a fifth president. People have inquired about who the fifth President might have been had there been another added to it. With the passing of each decade, there are new opinions about former Presidents who guided our nation through difficult times. These include President Franklin D. Roosevelt and President John F. Kennedy.

However, for many years, visitors came up on a “fifth face” upon their arrival at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. His name was Ben Black Elk. 

Born in Manderson, S.D., Ben Black Elk was a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe. Throughout his life, he promoted the traditions of the Lakota people. He even played an Arapaho chief in the 1962 western “How the West Was Won”. For more than 20 years, he posed for pictures with tourists near Mount Rushmore and was considered the most photographed Native American of all time.

George Washingtons face on Mount Rushmore
Visit Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt at Mount Rushmore.

Why Is Mount Rushmore Not Finished?

Mount Rushmore came to completion in 1941. Originally, the carvings were going to go from head to waist of each President. However, insufficient funding meant completing the project after sculpting into the rock face.

Borglum had also planned to include a magnificent chamber within the mountain to hold America’s most treasured artifacts and documents. But this never came to fruition due to a lack of funding and approval. 

Today the “Hall of Records” only includes 16 porcelain enamel panels inside a teakwood box and titanium vault. These panels contain the words of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and other historical documents.

How Long Will Mount Rushmore Last?

Granite erodes very slowly. Therefore, there’s no expectation that the mountain housing Mount Rushmore will change any time soon. According to the National Park Service (NPS), the granite withstands the erosive forces of wind, rain, and snow well. “The rate of erosion on the granite faces has been estimated at only 1/10 inch per one thousand years.”

However, frost wedging is more significant because granite has natural cracks. Therefore, the NPS must caulk the cracks in the memorial to prevent further deterioration. Mount Rushmore National Memorial should be around for thousands more years if properly cared for.

Know Before You Go: Make sure you know the ins and outs of the Mount Rushmore Controversy before you go.

Is It Worth Visiting Mount Rushmore?

Mount Rushmore is as iconic as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Gateway Arch, or the Statue of Liberty. A visit to the Black Hills to see the memorial is on many Americans’ bucket lists. And when you visit this landmark, make sure to check out the nearby Crazy Horse. Although unfinished, this memorial is a tribute to the Native American people who once lived in these sacred hills.

Have you ever visited Mount Rushmore? What President would you put as the fifth face of the memorial?

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