How Do You Get Your Face on Mount Rushmore?

Here in the US we love Mount Rushmore. It’s one of the most recognizable icons of American culture. Rarely can we name anything else about South Dakota, but we do know of the national monument located there. We might not even have seen it in real life, but can identify it immediately.



View of Mt. Rushmore from Visitor Center.

Carved into the face of Mount Rushmore, a granite batholith formation in the Black Hills in Keystone, South Dakota, the monument hosts nearly three million visitors a year and generates an estimated 74 million dollars for the state. Tourism is South Dakota’s second-largest industry, and Mount Rushmore is its top tourist attraction.


So if you are looking for some prime real state in which to highlight your legacy, the Black Hills are definitely worth checking out.


Aerial view of Mount Rushmore

First, we must see how the current faces were chosen.  It was the actual sculptor Gutzon Borglum who selected what four faces would be carved into his masterpiece to represent the first 150 years of American history. These presidents were selected by Borglum because of their role in preserving the Republic and expanding its territory.


Air Force One flying over Mt. Rushmore

So here’s your first step: Successfully run for the highest office in US government, and do something of value for the country. Still motivated? Let’s move on!


Now that you’ve become a popular US president, you have to secure the funding for your mountain bust. Mount Rushmore costed nearly one million dollars. The faces of Mount Rushmore are 60 feet high. That’s the same size as a six-story building. To turn the idea of Mount Rushmore into reality, Borglum and U.S. Senator Peter Norbeck found a creative way to secure financing. They invited President Calvin Coolidge to come to Custer State Park for a vacation so they could try and convince him to fund the monument. To keep the president busy, workers stocked the stream outside his room every night with thousands of trout. The president loved the fishing there so much, he decided to extend his stay for a total of  two months, apparently  long enough to convince him to fund the carving of Mount Rushmore.


Mt. Rushmore Under Construction

That gives us step two: Get creative and secure funding. Your political opposition is going to accuse you of using taxpayer money to carve out your personal legacy, but we know that they’re wrong! The good thing is that you’re a modern president, and you can use things, like internet based crowdsourcing to your advantage. And yes, in today’s political climate I can almost guarantee that if a new face is ever carved in Mount Rushmore it will be financed through private funding. You see, the case made originally for federal funding was justified by the revenue stream the national attraction would create, but nowadays it would be hard to convince the feds that adding your face would generate new income (no offense to your face).


Finally, there’s one more thing to worry about; challenges to your hard earned mountain real estate. While you’re a sitting president, there’s just going to be too much opposition for you to deal with, so the best strategy might be to use a little patience. Three of the presidents on Mount Rushmore had to wait until their entire generation died of old age before showing up on the mountain. President Roosevelt was a little luckier. From the time he left office to his carving, it was only eighteen years. Too bad he died eight years before the project was completed.


President George W. Bush Delivers a Speech Next to Mt. Rushmore

So there you have it: Become president, do something great, secure the money, and defy political odds.


And if you think that this process has discouraged everyone from trying, think again. There’s a few open petitions to get Barack Obama, John F. Kennedy, and yes, even Donald Trump on the historic monument.



Bonus Image of Mt. Rushmore Before it was Carved!

Nick on EmailNick on FacebookNick on GoogleNick on InstagramNick on Twitter
Defector from communist Cuba. Founder at the State Today.