Make it Monumental

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The facts about flax

Monday 11, Apr 2016

Blue flax is one of the most common flowers found at Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the meadows around Keystone in late spring and early summer. Native Americans added seeds from this plant to their food for added flavor.

Wild flax, often called pale flax, is a cousin of the cultivated flax that has been grown for thousands of years to produce linseed oil and linen fabrics.

You’ve heard the term “old as the hills”? Well, the Black Hills are pretty old. Some of the rock is estimated to be more than 2 billion years old. The granite spires west of Keystone (including Mount Rushmore) are relatively young, a mere 1.8 billion years.

"The geology of the Black Hills is complex,” according to Wikipedia. An understatement.

Kaboom!

Thursday 3, Mar 2016

More than 90 percent of the sculpting work was done not with chisels or jackhammers, but with sticks of dynamite. The blasts removed about 450,000 tons of rock from the mountain between 1927 and 1941.

The dynamite blasted away rock and roughed out the figures to within three to six inches of the final carving surface.

There’s an old political joke -- we first heard it during the Carter administration, but it’s been applied to every president since.

Q. Why won’t they add President ______ to Mount Rushmore?
A. There’s not enough rock for two more faces.

But there is a bit of truth to that. In fact, when sculptor Gutzon Borglum began his carving in 1927, he intended to put Jefferson to the left of Washington. In fact, crews spent time roughing in the third president’s visage to Washington’s left. But the rock surface proved unstable, and Borglum ended up blasting it off and starting again to Washington’s right.

Occasionally folks will ask how long the four faces of Mount Rushmore will still be visible. After all, even the sturdiest materials eventually succumb to wind and water.

Geologists estimate that the Mount Rushmore loses about an inch of rock every 10,000 years, so Mount Rushmore will likely be around for some time.