Mt. Rushmore’s Secret Face Revealed

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I saw a strange sight today; a robin just outside my window..shivering in the icy wind and as she surveyed her frigid white surroundings, there was a look of disgust on her face. She actually seemed on the verge of speech.
“I told him it was too early to go back to South Dakota..but would he listen to me? No! So here we are freezing our beaks off without a thing to eat because even the worms in this state have enough sense to stay in the ground until mid May. If he thinks he’s going to cuddle up to me for warmth or anything else tonight, he’s got another thing coming.”
I wanted to get a picture but she flew away..still muttering to herself.
It’s supposed to warm up next week but we’ve heard that before. Some of us have been around here long enough to know that there’s probably another Alberta clipper already gathering steam somewhere northwest of Williston.
Linda and I did get a ray of sunshine this week in the form of a phone call from our friends..and travel partners, Joan and Denny Graves.
They were booking rooms in Deadwood for our annual late summer trip to the Black Hills.
I love the Hills. 
There’s always something new to discover no matter how many times you’ve been there.
For example, have you ever seen the fifth face on Mount Rushmore?
Oh, I know..people have been seeing faces in the rock, besides the presidents, for years.
The granite outcroppings can be like puffy white cumulus clouds, anybody with an imagination can see all kinds of things.
I seem to be one of the few people who remember a report on NBC news by John Chancellor in 1977 in which the head of an Indian warrior was clearly visible, if the angle and light was right, just to the left of George Washington.The  Indian head, complete with feathered headdress, is the whole left side of the mountain. His nose is Washington’s lapel. His chin is at the bottom of the carved portion. See it? I’ve put a rather lame outline on the photo below.
It caused such a stir that even Lincoln Borglum, son of the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, was amazed.
NBC interviewed business owners in Keystone who were optimistic that the discovery would be a big boost for tourism.
Most tourists viewing the mountain, however, had a tough time seeing the image.
A few, though,  said, oh wow…there it is. Incredible!
In 1991, I co-anchored Keloland News live coverage of the huge 50th anniversary celebration of Mount Rushmore. President George H.W. Bush along with lots of celebrities including Jimmy Stewart and Tom Brokaw, were on hand for the re-dedication ceremony.
We had a lot of air time to fill and somewhere along the line I happened to mention  the NBC report I’d seen years earlier about the face of an Indian on the mountain. 
People looked at me as though I’d just claimed to have had lunch with Elvis.
No one had heard that story. But our crew, God bless ‘em, appeased me by pointing their cameras in the direction where the face was supposed to be.
“Well, the angle must not be right,” was my excuse. I know it’s there. I saw it."
Undaunted, I pointed out yet another feature of the carving that most people don’t know about; Lincoln’s knuckles.
This one is true and documented.
Gutzon Borglum’s plan was to have all four presidents depicted from the waist up. He started on a couple of them but died before that job was done.
War was on the horizon and money was tight so Lincoln Borglum decided to declare the monument complete in 1941.
But if you look closely, you can clearly see the lapels on Washington’s jacket.  What you may never have noticed, though, are the unfinished fingers of Lincoln’s left hand holding onto his lapel. They look like a short curved stairway under his bearded chin.
Now…aren’t you anxious to go see Mount Rushmore again?
Me too.
I’m just hoping the light is right so the Indian head is visible this time.
Oh well, we had to use our imagination on the Crazy Horse carving for a lot of years too.

1 Comment

  1. Debbie Coulter says:

    I’m so happy to read your article. My husband and I went to see Mount Rushmore in 1978. Our guide told us about the hidden Indian headdress on one of the presidents. As the years went by I would look and tell friends about it and they thought I was crazy. Occasionally I will ask friends if they have ever seen or heard of this and they all say no.

    Thanks to you I can tell my family it is real.


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