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Mount Rushmore by the Numbers

George Washington’s nose is 21 feet long—plus 13 other facts about the presidential monument

Mount Rushmore National Monument. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

George Washington’s nose is 21 feet long—plus 13 other facts about the presidential monument

Near South Dakota’s western boundary and tucked into its Black Hills, you’ll find the colossal countenances of four of America’s most celebrated presidents. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt are forever immortalized in the granite of Mount Rushmore. Today, millions of visitors make a pilgrimage annually to pay homage to the mile-high Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Entrance sign to Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

In honor of Presidents’ Day, we’ve compiled a brief history, in numbers, of Mount Rushmore: 

1885: When the 5,275-foot mountain in South Dakota’s Black Hills was named for a New York lawyer—Charles E. Rushmore—who reportedly traveled west to verify some land titles and subsequently returned to the East Coast with a mountain named after him. 

28: Date in December 1923 when Doane Robinson, South Dakota’s state historian at the time, floated his crazy idea to carve gigantic statues in the Black Hills.

1927: The year President Calvin Coolidge formally dedicated the future sculpture’s site, calling it “decidedly American in its conception, in its magnitude, in its meaning, and altogether worthy of our Country.”

150: The presidential likenesses, which are carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore, are intended to represent the first 150 years of American history. Washington symbolizes our nation’s birth; Jefferson stands for our domestic expansion by way of the Louisiana Purchase; Lincoln embodies America’s preservation through the outcome of the Civil War; and Teddy Roosevelt depicts ongoing international development via the Panama Canal.

1: The noble visage of America’s first prez was also the first one Master Sculptor Gutzon Borglum set to work on. 

10: Date in June 1933 when FDR issued an executive order to place Mount Rushmore under the National Park Service’s authority.

14: Number of years it took to complete the project.

450,000: Amount of granite, in tons, dynamited off of the peak to make way for the monument.

21: Length, in feet, of Washington’s nose (the other president’s noses run about a foot shorter).

18: Approximate breadth, in feet, of each pair of presidential lips.

60: Approximate height, in feet, of each presidential face.

989,992.32: Total cost, in dollars, of the historic project, including paychecks for hundreds of workers. 

0: What it costs to enter Mount Rushmore, though there’s a small fee to park.

3: Approximate number, in millions, of tourists each year—a constituency anyone would envy.

Nicolas Henderson/Creative Commons )

San Marcos, Texas

Billed as the world’s toughest canoe race, the Texas Water Safari, held each June, is a four-day, 260-mile jaunt from the headwaters of the San Marcos River northeast of San Antonio to the small shrimping town of Seadrift on the Gulf Coast. There’s no prize money—just bragging rights for the winner. Any boat without a motor is allowed, and you’ll have to carry your own equipment and overnight gear. Food and water are provided at aid stations along the way. Entry fees start at $175 and increase as race day approaches.

The Ring

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(Courtesy Quatro Hubbard)

Strasburg, Virginia

The Ring is a 71-mile trail running race in early September along the entire length of Virginia’s rough and rocky Massanutten Trail loop. To qualify, you need to have run a 50- or 100-mile race before the event and win a spot through the lottery system. Entry is free. Complete the run and you’ll become part of the tight-knit Fellowship of the Ring and be eligible for the Reverse Ring, which entails running the trail backwards in the middle of winter.

Plaza2Peak

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(David Silver)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Each spring, competitors gather in Santa Fe’s historic plaza with a simple goal: be the first to reach 12,308-foot Deception Peak, 17 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain away. Competitors run or bike the first 15 miles to the local ski area before transitioning to their waiting ski-touring setups for the final push to the top. Time stops only when they’ve skied back down to the tailgate in the resort’s parking lot, which is funded by the modest entry fee of around $25. To add to the sufferfest, some participants sign up for the Expedition category, in which they strap their skis, skins, boots, and poles to their bikes for the long ride up. Start dates vary depending on snow conditions, but look for the event page to be posted on Facebook in late March or early April.

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