Like many of you, I’m excited about the launch Tuesday of Fox Nation, the new streaming members-only subscription service for Fox News fans featuring exclusive content and audio feeds. For the past year, I’ve had the chance to report from some of the most fascinating places around the U.S. for a Fox Nation series called “What Made America Great” that will give you a new appreciation of our country.
I would not be surprised if most viewers click on the episode on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial first. Many people have told me a visit to the Black Hills of South Dakota to see this iconic monument carved into a mountainside is on their bucket list. Nearly 3 million people visit the memorial each year – more than triple the size of South Dakota’s population of about 870,000.
It’s amazing to think that this awe-inspiring giant sculpture began with the idea of marking the first 150 years of American nationhood by carving the likenesses of four of our greatest and most indispensable presidents into the side of a mountain, where they could be viewed by many generations and tourists from around the world.
Mount Rushmore, named after a New York businessman, was envisioned as the home of magnificent 60-foot high carvings of the heads of Presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson.
Then came hard part – actually turning the idea into reality.
Artist and sculptor Gutzon Borglum said the monument would cost $500,000 and take three years to carve. But thanks to the Depression, World War II and some bad rock, the project would take 14 years – from 1927 to 1941 – and cost over $1 million. Back in 1941, that was the equivalent over $17 million today.
It’s awe-inspiring to think that 400 people could accomplish such a titanic feat using primarily dynamite to move about 450,000 tons of rock.
In describing the project in 1930, Borglum said: “Let us place there, carved high, as close to heaven as we can, the words of our leaders, their faces, to show posterity what manner of men they were. Then breathe a prayer that these records will endure until the wind and rain alone shall wear them away.”
The detail and the hurdles involved in creating the memorial are described in our piece that you can watch as a member of Fox Nation, including dramatic film of the monument’s construction.
But you should know one portion of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial was never completed. It’s called the Hall of Records.
Never heard of it?
The hall isn’t just a plot twist in the “National Treasure” movie starring Nicolas Cage. Nestled beyond the heads of the presidents, the hall was supposed to house America’s founding documents. However, the move of the documents was never approved by Congress.
Today the Hall of Records is off-limits to almost everyone. But Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke gave us special permission to enter with our cameras so that all Fox Nation family members can get a glimpse.
Today many people are questioning America’s greatness. Viewing the Mount Rushmore National Memorial – known as the Shrine of Democracy – will reaffirm what many of us believe: that America is an exceptional nation with exceptional people who strive and achieve great things. And one of those great things is the incredible carving of Mount Rushmore.
My sense is that most Americans realize how special our country is, and how we all owe an incalculable debt of gratitude to the generations that came before us, worked hard, struggled and made America the greatest nation on Earth. You can see more examples of this in our “What Made America Great” series.
I hope all of you who haven’t been there already will visit Mount Rushmore in the years ahead. But until you do – and even if you’ve seen the monument – I think you’ll learn a lot and feel a burst of patriotic pride if you take the journey with us to the Black Hills as a member.