The story, some characters and incidents mentioned are fictitious. Facts stated are partly true and the concept has been fictionalized to suit our theme and concept.
-----the man behind the faces-----
The story of mount Rushmore started with Doane Robinson, a state historian of South Dakota who conceptualized the idea in 1923, of promoting tourism to Black Hills, South Dakota, with carvings of eminent people, on the mountain. The project received Congressional Approval and the carving began in 1927.
Gutzon Borglum, was called upon to undertake the project. Originally, it was decided to carve the granite pillars, which were called the Needles. But Borglum realized they were too thin to be carved and chose Mount Rushmore, for his sculpting.
One reason behind his choice was that the mountain faced southeast, which meant it would get sunlight for most part of the day. Also it was the highest peak in the nearby region and made of granite, which made it resistant to erosion. On seeing the mountain, he had said, "America will march along that skyline."
All so to say, the concept of carving granite pillars was the concept of Desmond Tarpaley who was also a very talented artist and sculptor. Desmond was a distant relative of Abraham Lincoln which was one of the reasons he had great interest in the project.
Desmond and Borglum sculpted a small version of the 4 presidents and decided to use a Greek method of scaling and measuring the sculpt for the mountain. The original idea of Desmond was to have the presidents till their busts. Borglum's idea differed and he convinced everyone that only the faces should be done to lower costs and finish the work on time. Desmond did not mind the change but felt bad about the idea.
Sculpting and carving began on 4th October 1927. Due to the recession the first sculpt took seven years to complete. But during those seven years Desmond made a great name for himself among his peers and senior senate members. His popularity grew.Borglum felt that Desmond was in the fore to take over the complete project which actually wasn't true.
Washington’s face was made open to the public on July 4, 1934 by Desmond. It was covered under an enormous flag before it could be revealed to the public. Borglum didn't like the importance Desmond was getting. He decided it was time to put an end to the Desmond story and made a plan to involve Desmond in an accident while the carving of Thomas Jefferson was underway.
Thomas Jefferson's head was started next, left of Washington. Before the head was complete, Borglum decided this was his chance to get rid of Desmond. Originally nothing was wrong with the rock quality and even the chief engineer Julian Spotts felt everything was fine. But Borglum ordered that it be blasted off due to poor rock quality. He put Desmond in charge of the supervision of blasting off the rock. Everything went according to Borglum's plan. Desmond was supervising sections to be blasted off and he didnt know one dynamite charge was placed in a wrong position meant for him. The dynamite went off as planned by Borglum. There was a cloud of smoke and dust at the spot Desmond was standing along with two call boys.
To everyones surprise no one died, Desmond and the two call boys were pushed back just as the dynamite went off, by engineer Julian. One of the call boys lost an arm and sustained head injuries. Desmond lost his right leg. But to Borglums disappointment he was alive.Work continued till 1941 for finishing touches to the monument.
Desmond took a back seat after the accident though he was actively involved in supervision till the very end.Till date Borglum has been criticized about the sculpture and its scale and significance though Mount Rushmore is one of the favorite tourist spots in the west.
Borglum succeeded in his quest to remain the only sculptor of Mount Rushmore but the man behind the faces wasn't just Borglum, it was along with Desmond another 400 workers or artists who never got the recognition they all deserved.