George Washington’s Nose

One of the best things about homeschooling is the flexibility to do field trips. Anytime. With no need to get permission for midweek, mid-day adventures. Case in point: our trip last Wednesday and Thursday to Keystone, SD to see, for the first time,

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In our seven hour plus drive, we saw a lot of highway.

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We also saw this van which made us think we weren’t the only homeschooling family visiting.

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In contrast to our two days on the road, they spent three weeks, and went from Colorado to Boston and back, by way of all these historic sites documented in white paint on the windows of their vehicle. (We learned all that later when we saw their van again, this time at a rest stop on the South Dakota/Wyoming border.)

When we finally pulled into the Mount Rushmore parking lot, I felt a wave of disappointment. We came all the way for this? The rock faces seemed small. (It was a “keep it to yourself” moment.)

We got out and started walking toward the sculptures. First through the Avenue of Flags (all 50 states are represented by their flag atop a carved granite column).

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The closer we got, the more majestic the mountain appeared.

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Thanks to the other tourist who willingly laid on the ground to get this family shot.

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We walked as close as we could get to the carvings, taking countless steps to get there. Still, with the monument right above us, it looked deceptively small. Each face is 60 feet tall and George Washington’s nose was known, back in the day, to keep up to nine workers dry during a rain storm.

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We visited the studio where Gutzon Borglum designed his masterpiece.

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It was closed. But the highly reflective glass made for a sweet self-portrait. And we weren’t deterred. We came back the next day to see inside and learn about the 400 workers who made Borglum’s vision a reality.

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They sat in these special “bosun chairs” designed by Borglum to hold them safe, even if they fell unconscious. (Our tour book said it was impossible for them to fall out. Hm. OSHA must have been more lax back then.)

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Borglum worked from a 1:12 scale model.

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From which he could look out a set of massive floor-to-ceiling windows to see the Presidents emerging from solid granite.

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Borglum was inspired, and an inspiration. His son, Lincoln (named for his dad’s favorite president), followed in his footsteps. His work, too, is seen all over the park. Most notably is this sculpture he did of his dad.

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And so, our short field trip adventure came to a close. We learned about the history of Mount Rushmore, the Presidents honored there and the virtues they esteemed.

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And in an unintended final nod to the Mountain, took a group shot with our own Teddy in the right seat.

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