Mount Rushmore is empty-calorie patriotism, but it’s pretty.
Local concerns overbuilt the amenities so much in the 1990s so that they’re still paying them off. Merely parking a car costs $11. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum took extreme care in rendering his four subjects accurately, but the piles of tourist junk hawked by Xanterra at its several gift shop concessions? Not so much.
Here’s what it’s supposed to look like, in all its placebo-patriotic attractiveness:
But most of the tourist tat sold in the gift shops mangles the angles and fudges the faces.
Thomas Jefferson is usually made to look the most ridiculous.
East of the Black Hills, in front of a steak house on 79 in Hermosa, South Dakota, thought to be three castoffs from the now-closed Presidents Park sculpture garden, provide a counterpoint to Mount Rushmore with someone’s modern favorites: JFK, Reagan, and George W. Bush.
Then again, Teddy Roosevelt doesn’t really belong up on that mountain, either, does he? He’d only been dead for less than a decade when Rushmore was begun. But no one could talk Borglum, bullheaded man, out of carving TR on the rock.
There was a reason: Turns out they were good friends.