Mount Rushmore has a secret. Well, it's not really a secret, but it might me something that is not commonly know.

Right behind Abe Lincoln's head is a room carved into the mountain. It's a vault that holds a history of the United States and the Monument.

The vault was always part of Rushmore's creator Gutzon Borglum. He wanted a room dedicated to the history of the United States.

Well, at first Borglum wanted to carve a history of the U.S. on the mountain next to the presidents. But, that didn't work out because any text couldn't be made big enough to read at a distance and placement of the faces changed and made the history carving unfeasible. Instead Borglum designed a hall of records to go behind the faces.

This chamber would hold the documents and artifacts most central to American democratic history. The proposed large room, 80 by 100 feet was to be drilled into the north wall of the small canyon behind the faces. His scheme also called for an 800-foot granite stairway to reach the room. The steps would begin near his studio, rise gradually to meet the canyon mouth behind Lincoln’s head, and then lead to the entrance of the great hall. -National Parks Service

Construction of the vault started in 1938. But, Borglum's death and America's shifting focus to World War II left the project abandoned. A very rough cut chamber that tapers to a point at the back was all that was finished. The idea, however, remained.

In 1998 a repository of records was secured in the floor of the previously carved hall's entrance. inside a teakwood box, inside a titanium vault, covered by a granite capstone are sixteen porcelain enamel panels.

Inscribed on the panels is the story of how Mount Rushmore came to be carved, who carved it, the reasons for selecting the four presidents depicted on the mountain and a short history of the United States. This repository is not accessible to visitors but is left as a record for people thousands of years from now who may wonder how and why Mount Rushmore was carved. -National Parks Service

The capstone is inscribed with a quote from Borglum, "...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."

Source: National Park Service


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