The U.S. Congress authorized American sculptor Gutzon Borglum to undertake the Mount Rushmore project. Borglum (1871-1941) had executed other noteworthy commissions, but Mount Rushmore was his crowning achievement. Work began in August, 1927 and took 14 years to complete. Of this time, only six and one-half years were spent on actual carving; the rest of the time was spent waiting for good weather or looking for funding, which took the federal government eventually provided.
The work was precarious, much of it done at the end of a rope harness. Borglum was assisted by teams of workmen and—towards the end of the project—by his son Lincoln. Using pneumatic drills and explosives, they cut, blasted, and chiseled away some 450,000 tons of rock to complete the four huge heads.
The Mount Rushmore Memorial carvings are huge compared to other well-known monuments. Each head is twice as high as the famous Sphinx statue at Giza, Egypt.
(Famous Places, Mount Rushmore, 1941, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson)