Could we build Mt. Rushmore today?

posted at 8:31 am on August 4, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

This was a question that I put out to a number of my friends and contacts last week, on Twitter and across a couple of e-mail lists. Imagine for a moment that Mt. Rushmore had never been built and the mountain still stood today as a natural rock outcrop. Could we come together as a nation and build such a monument in 2012? There are a number of questions to be wrestled to the ground on this one. Who would pay for it and how? Who would oppose it and why? And – perhaps most contentious of all – which faces would adorn it?

I received a number of interesting responses. One of the more surprising ones came from John Hawkins at Right Wing News, who opined that we couldn’t, but with a rather unexpected twist. His take was that environmentalists would block any such construction under the guise of protecting the environment. (Presumably the yellow necked sand tit would lose half of its nesting grounds. Or something.)

A less popular opinion came on the spending front. One liberal correspondent (who shall remain nameless) claimed that the Tea Party would block the project if there were any tax dollars involved in funding it. (The actual monument was, in fact, bankrolled with federal funding and the National Park Service took over management before it was even finished.)

The majority opinion was that everyone would pay lip service to the need for this type of memorial, but an immediate battle would break out over which presidents to enshrine on such a monument today. Leaving the monument “as is” with some faces from before the modern era of political schisms might be palatable to a majority, but would there be a rush to put some slightly more modern faces up there? And if so… who?

Reagan is the easy answer for conservatives. I suppose the Democrats would push for Kennedy as an easy out, though there would doubtless be a short lived push for Obama as the historic, first black president, etc. (Hey… he got a Nobel, didn’t he?) Does anyone else in the post Teddy Roosevelt era stand out enough to bump one of the current figures off the top of the hill? Or perhaps a 19th century POTUS who was overlooked before?

I might make a case for Ike, though even I would be pushing it with fairly faint praise compared to the current denizens. So, the question for your consideration this weekend is put forward. Could we do it? If not… why not? And if so, who should be there if we were to start the project from square one today?


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Could we build Mt. Rushmore today?

“Mr. Borglum and his son didn’t build that!”-Barack Hussein Obama

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 4, 2012 at 4:34 PM

I just got back three days ago from my first ever visit to Mt. Rushmore. What an incredible monument to American Exceptionalism in all manner. What really frosted me was the fact the our federal tax dollars cannot support the required maintenance. Donations are requested because federal tax dollars are few and far between. I blew up–against my will my tax dollars go to fund NPR, Planned Parenthood abortions, the National Endowment for Arts (which is not art), all things I oppose-

My congressman and senators got an earful, not that it does any good with Sack of Durbin and Mark Kirk still not recovered. Please call your representatives and tell them to full fund maintenance of this national treasure.

cpasherry on August 4, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Even if it weren’t a waste of money, we couldn’t afford, even if we could agree on who to put on it, Mount Rushmore is ugly and tacky and never should have been done to start with. I hope we couldn’t build it now.

thuja on August 4, 2012 at 4:37 PM

What really frosted me was the fact the our federal tax dollars cannot support the required maintenance.

I hope the ugly thing falls apart and we can forget that it ever happened.

thuja on August 4, 2012 at 4:48 PM

I’d rather demolish the existing one. Of course The State worshipper wants to idolize and venerate presidents.

Dante on August 4, 2012 at 5:11 PM

In fairness, only one of the four heads – Teddy – would be considered controversial if we had to build the monument from scratch today.

HitNRun on August 4, 2012 at 10:29 AM

The tyrant Lincoln would be as well.

Dante on August 4, 2012 at 5:14 PM

Could we build Mt. Rushmore today?

Thanks to the PC and America is too arrogant crowd the answer would be a resounding NO!

A similar question could be asked; would the movie Blazing Saddles ever get made today…again…thanks to the liberal/prog PC Nazi’s the answer would also be NO!

Liberty or Death on August 4, 2012 at 5:39 PM

bayview on August 4, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Not sure what you’re comparing it to. You know about city-data, right? They have some stats and trends, ends with 2010 though.

Three areas to look:
Kingwood/Dayton
Tomball/Magnolia
Bellville/Sealy

People I’ve talked to from Katy really like it too.

Eren on August 4, 2012 at 5:55 PM

Leaving the monument “as is” with some faces from before the modern era of political schisms might be palatable to a majority, but would there be a rush to put some slightly more modern faces up there? And if so… who?

This statement seems to be in contradiction with the idea that we were starting out with a pristine mountain. Of course, there would be battle over which images to enshrine. But my response is engineering based. The figure of Thomas Jefferson was originally started on Washington’s right side. After 18 months of carving the figure of Jefferson had to be blasted off the mountain and restarted on Washington’s left side due to the faults running though the rock.

I’ve got to wonder if anybody suggesting Obama has considered the sheer challenge of having those ears being carved into an outcropping.

Happy Nomad on August 4, 2012 at 6:05 PM

The tyrant Lincoln would be as well.

Dante on August 4, 2012 at 5:14 PM

No less so than Washington and Jefferson who owned slaves.

In fact TR is probably the least controversial face in the political correctness of 2012. And he went on big game hunts!

Happy Nomad on August 4, 2012 at 6:07 PM

I hope the ugly thing falls apart and we can forget that it ever happened.

thuja on August 4, 2012 at 4:48 PM

I’m not as hateful as you but the reality is that eventually the image on the back of the SD state quarter will go the way of the image on the back of New Hampshire.

Happy Nomad on August 4, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Eren on August 4, 2012 at 5:55 PM

Thanks again.

bayview on August 4, 2012 at 6:14 PM

No less so than Washington and Jefferson who owned slaves.

Happy Nomad on August 4, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Um, no.

Link

Dante on August 4, 2012 at 8:07 PM

Heck no we couldn’t build anything like Mount Rushmore today. The EPA would never approve the permits, and even if they did, some other regulation would shut it down in a heartbeat.

sherrimae on August 4, 2012 at 11:32 PM

Had a conversation about Mt. Rushmore with a National Park Service Ranger on Wednesday. They hate it because it’s just “Dead white guys”

I think that is sort of telling as to how things would go now. We COULD get something on that scale built, but it would have a horror show of crappy unworthy people and lightweights.

And it’d cost about 10x more than it really should. A private sector group could do something like that for a few hundred million. A billion tops. Govt would require at least 20-30billion budget and it’d go over.

WashingtonsWake on August 4, 2012 at 11:45 PM

I hope the ugly thing falls apart and we can forget that it ever happened.

thuja on August 4, 2012 at 4:48 PM

I’m not as hateful as you but the reality is that eventually the image on the back of the SD state quarter will go the way of the image on the back of New Hampshire.

Happy Nomad on August 4, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Not really accurate to compare those two, as the Mt. Rushmore monument was physically carved by man, while the Old Man of the Mountain was a natural stone formation that basically happened by accident and thus was much more susceptible to failure. And Borglum specifically picked that mountain because the granite was fine and stable.

In addition, the Old Man is angled towards the northeast, while the Rushmore profiles face southeast; as a result the Mt. Rushmore face is in the sun much more than the Old Man. The Old Man finally fell apart because of too many freeze-thaw cycles. Due to its angle Rushmore doesn’t have nearly as many.

Rushmore will definitely last longer, because we actually know its age. The Old Man we do not.

Del Dolemonte on August 4, 2012 at 11:56 PM

I’m done venerating Politicians.

My list:

Henry Ford

Thomas Edison

Orville and Wilbur Wright

George Washington Carver

Albert Einstein

If we have to do politicians:

Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln. None of the bunch since are worthy of what they did.

Jimmy Doolittle on August 5, 2012 at 2:10 AM

Jimmy Doolittle on August 5, 2012 at 2:10 AM

Refreshingly sensible!

:)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on August 5, 2012 at 2:19 AM

I could never understand why Teddy was on there… but Gustav blasted the mountain not too long after his Presidency…

It is a terrific monument but we couldn’t built it today because of all the red tape, permits, environmental impacts, etc…

Just like a 51st or 52nd state… won’t happen again…

Khun Joe on August 5, 2012 at 3:40 AM

I like you thinking. It looks like they started Washington’s lapels. The shoulder is there. However, all that blasted rock is in the way. To finish it would require the removal of all that blasted rock. Given that is if possible with the faults in the rock formation as you mentioned.

LurP on August 4, 2012 at 11:19 AM

My thanks!

That is why I proposed a high intensity water-jet system with sand in the jets. Scaffolding would allow placement of multiple jets with lateral and horizontal tracks, plus extensions to move the water carving system forward. You don’t need to take it all off with blasting, but just slow, steady erosion. The water could even be caught as run-off, the sand filtered down to the finest material and re-utilized with some additional water and sand necessary as the finest stuff gets through the filters that get proper sized grains. A catch basin or other tank would allow settling of material (although somewhat silty water shouldn’t be that much of a problem).

Rig all that to a laser measuring system with a bit of spectrographic analysis and someone to walk across the catwalk to look for cracks every few inches and program those into the system to adjust the material removal. As we are already down into the clothing region of the bodies, smaller cracks and faults can be hidden in the representation of the material… or covered over as is now done with Jefferson as his head was tilted slightly to as to make the crack less visible.

This would be a much lower cost affair, requiring, at most , 50 people for continuous work and a bit more to shift the scaffolding down one level once a prior work section is done. As it is computer driven using laser depth finders, it could run 24/7. Some hand work might be necessary to remove any linear artifacts from the system and give it a more ‘hand hewn’ feel keeping with the original… but that is nowhere near the original project in size or scope.

No longer is this a high cost, high personnel, high maintenance job, but one that could be highly automated and done in a very environmentally friendly fashion with relatively low overhead. Once the input/output of water is determined it only needs human oversight for examination of cracks and to ensure the platform is stable. Far, far less than a decade for finishing the thing and I could imagine a pretty small charity or for-profit organization doing the work to demonstrate the technology. Get a high intensity waterjet head with fine particulates at a few thousand psi and rock carves very quickly: this is used to cut through steel, titanium and other alloys. Often inches thick. Rock? Getting a low enough pressure might be a problem, but that can be calibrated on test pieces fallen from the old work. Really, anyone who is thinking an army of laborers, jackhammers and dynamite isn’t living in the modern world.

ajacksonian on August 5, 2012 at 7:58 AM

Mount Rushmore was pork barrel spending dreamed up by a S. Dakota pol to boost tourism. So what if it was never built?

Outlander on August 5, 2012 at 9:24 AM

The strongest evidence that we couldn’t create Mount Rushmore today is that we no longer have traditional artists/designers.

From the hideous replacement for the Twin Towers to the fiasco of the Eisenhower Memorial it would seem that Charles Manson has been a major influence on today’s artists/designers.

Manson’s work on Helter Skelter was way ahead of its time.

Besides, everyone on the project would die of old age before it could be completed.

BMF on August 5, 2012 at 11:17 AM

The tyrant Lincoln would be as well.

Dante on August 4, 2012 at 5:14 PM

Oh, how cute. Another inbred racist who’s still sore about the his ancestor’s a$$es getting kicked over 100 years ago in a war they started. If that ‘tyrant’ hadn’t directly ordered his generals to go easy on the rebel forces, you slobbering moron, your family line would likely have ended in the 1860′s.

Get down on your knees and thank God that you were born in the most merciful superpower in existence. One where you can fly the oversized dishrag of a defeated rebel nation not only in public but on your state capitols. Anywhere else, you’d be stood up in front of a firing squad.

MelonCollie on August 5, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Pearl Harbor – 2403 dead

9/11 – 3497 dead (+19 cowardly goat-f^!kers)

9/11 hardly “pales by comparison”. Try again.

Solaratov on August 4, 2012 at 12:27 PM

Yup, plus the Japanese attacked a military target, whereas the cowardly goat-f^!kers surprise-attacked a building full of cubicles filled with office workers.

yubley on August 5, 2012 at 12:51 PM

Even if it weren’t a waste of money, we couldn’t afford, even if we could agree on who to put on it, Mount Rushmore is ugly and tacky and never should have been done to start with. I hope we couldn’t build it now.

thuja on August 4, 2012 at 4:37 PM

I ended up at Rushmore last summer and as a long time ago art teacher and artist, I thought it was beautiful and not commercial art all -made me proud of America (of an earlier time) After Glacier and Yellowstone I wasn’t looking forward to Rushmore. It turned out to be one of the most liked parts of our trip. Ugly and beauty, as you know, are in the eye of the beholder.

It’s not supposed to be art-it is a monument with representations of four presidents. Go to the Guggenheim if you wish to see what modernists call beauty.

Don L on August 5, 2012 at 2:25 PM

Oh, how cute. Another inbred racist who’s still sore about the his ancestor’s a$$es getting kicked over 100 years ago in a war they started. If that ‘tyrant’ hadn’t directly ordered his generals to go easy on the rebel forces, you slobbering moron, your family line would likely have ended in the 1860′s.

Get down on your knees and thank God that you were born in the most merciful superpower in existence. One where you can fly the oversized dishrag of a defeated rebel nation not only in public but on your state capitols. Anywhere else, you’d be stood up in front of a firing squad.

MelonCollie on August 5, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Oh, how cute. Another pretender “conservative” ignorant of history and regurgitating the statist propaganda.

Dante on August 5, 2012 at 2:29 PM

If we have to do politicians:

Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln. None of the bunch since are worthy of what they did.

Jimmy Doolittle on August 5, 2012 at 2:10 AM

I understand your point. However, I defy anyone to distinguish Thomas Jefferson and James Madison when carved in stone on the scale of Mt. Rushmore. So I propose a substitute: the often overlooked James K. Polk. So the list of faces would run: Washington, Father of the Country; Jefferson, polymath, author of the Declaration of Independence, and purchaser of the Louisiana Territory; Polk, winner of the Mexican-American War and thus responsible for about 40% of CONUS; and Lincoln, savior of the Union and (through his Secretary of State, albeit after his assassination) purchaser of Alaska.

HTL on August 5, 2012 at 8:07 PM

You’ve got 2 republicans (Roosevelt and Lincoln), a republican-democrat (Jefferson who wanted states rights and was a slave holder before he released them), and then there is a military General (George Washington). Would Mt Rushmore be built today as it is now? No way Jose.

Which means it wouldn’t be built at all. With the country so polarized and so hetero-ized into small groups, we are not a homogenous population like we were at the time it was built. So like national holidays – we’d get chavez, martin luther king, FDR, and lincoln. That’s if you could get it past the environmentalists and the Native Americans – I could be wrong but isn’t it on their land or don’t you have to use their land to get to the monument?

athenadelphi on August 5, 2012 at 8:14 PM

I could never understand why Teddy was on there… but Gustav blasted the mountain not too long after his Presidency…

Khun Joe on August 5, 2012 at 3:40 AM

Wasn’t Teddy the one who started the National Park System?

athenadelphi on August 5, 2012 at 8:19 PM

HTL on August 5, 2012 at 8:07 PM

Good Input. Thanks. I’ll see your Polk, but I also want my Madison.

After we get Ford, Wright, Edison, Einstein, and Carver.

Jimmy Doolittle on August 6, 2012 at 3:21 AM

President Eisenhower is at the bottom of my list after I found that Ike ignored Stalin when he grabbed 25000 American prisons of war from the Germans and did not turn them over to American forces. You’ll need to dig to get this on the web but it’s there. Truman’s Uncle Joe took them and Harry didn’t say a word.

mixplix on August 6, 2012 at 9:07 AM

Oh, how cute. Another pretender “conservative” ignorant of history and regurgitating the statist propaganda.

Dante on August 5, 2012 at 2:29 PM

Aren’t you late for your cross-burning practice, racist hayseed?

MelonCollie on August 6, 2012 at 9:38 AM

I’m just trying to wrap my head around why Jazz is surprised that environmentalists would object to using millions of pounds of dynamite to blast faces in a mountainside. Has he been living under a rock the last few decades?

dominigan on August 6, 2012 at 9:46 AM

I could never understand why Teddy was on there… but Gustav blasted the mountain not too long after his Presidency…

Khun Joe on August 5, 2012 at 3:40 AM

Wasn’t Teddy the one who started the National Park System?

athenadelphi on August 5, 2012 at 8:19 PM

Yes, Teddy also started the first national conservation commission and gasp, was a rabid hunter (rabids taste good in rabid stew)and he understood that hunting and conservation (wise use of natural resources) go together.

Don L on August 6, 2012 at 10:42 AM

I like Teddy, but he doesn’t belong up there. Reagan does because of his fighting the Cold War to eventual success against considerable domestic opposition… like when Ted Kennedy to become a Soviet agent for Yuri Andropov.

theCork on August 6, 2012 at 11:32 AM

…Ted Kennedy [offered] to become…

theCork on August 6, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Washington, Lincoln, FDR, Kennedy would be the final roll call, I think. Though I would personally replace FDR with Reagan, and bump Kennedy with Jefferson.

GWB on August 6, 2012 at 11:58 AM

The folks that built this were such forward thinkers by first of all naming it Mt RUSHmore. Everyone knows we need more RUSH. Also they thought far enough in advance to 4 presidents faces on the front and one current presidents face on the back times 4.

j bo on August 6, 2012 at 12:56 PM

We could still build something like rushmore. We’d just have to find some unproductive land such as a coal mine or petroleum field. We could eminent domain it through exective order and proceed to build it.

Obviously anyone who objects is a racist and a tin foil hat wearing red-neck.

After we obtained the land we could properly build on it using lots of cheap imported labor. This labor would be happy to “join an union” and proudly support oblamo.

Suggestions for images should not be limited to presidents. While oblamo would obviously need to be 2-4 times larger, reflecting his vast and superior intellegence, we could also include pelosi, reid and, of course, ben nelson along with Judas Iscariot.

acyl72 on August 6, 2012 at 1:20 PM

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, only half of Mt. Rushmore was funded by the Feds. Congress, in creating the Mount Rushmore Memorial Commission, funded the Commission with $250,000, with the provision that no money be spent unless it was matched by donation.
Hence, for every Federal dollar spent, there was at least one private dollar spent. Since the project cost nearly $1,000,000.00, that means that about three quarters of the project was privately funded.

As for the National Park Service, the sculptor Gutzon Borglum viewed them as negative energy — an impediment to the project.

It’s obvious in hindsight that the work could have been done completely using private funds. It might have taken longer — Lincoln Borglum (Gutzon’s son) might have been on the job longer — but it would have been done.

Nothing like this could be done today. The environmental and workplace laws would make the cost prohibitive — you can bet that people like the Sierra Club would see to that…

unclesmrgol on August 7, 2012 at 1:27 PM

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