Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mount Rushmore

After further reflecting on yesterday’s exercise, I’m reminded of the writing precept: “Thou shall be intentional.” Let us now ponder Mount Rushmore …

Rushmore was a New York lawyer (of all things!) who led a prospecting expedition to the Black Hills region in 1885. It wasn’t until 1923, however, that a historian conceived the idea of a monument at the site as a way to increase tourism in South Dakota. Congress actually commissioned his idea and approved a million dollars’ budget. President Coolidge then approved the idea after insisting that two Republicans be shown next to George Washington, leaving room for only one Democrat. Some pushed to add Susan B. Anthony but she missed the ‘cut’ because of funding.

Mount Rushmore ended up with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Now, here’s the point – those 60 foot carvings were sculpted into granite using dynamite. Each blast had to be well thought out and carefully planned, utilizing a process known as “honey-combing.” One unintentional mistake would ruin the entire masterpiece.

Returning to yesterday, I have to think that Dumas intentionally included such detail as the date and exact places into his opening sentence. He stuck each one where he did so as to precisely deliver the intents we discussed. I’ve heard it said that every word of every sentence of every chapter and so on should be chosen with care. Borglum, Rushmore’s sculptor, certainly used such care in blasting away two million tons of granite. I suppose I could exercise at least some of the same intentional degree of caution when crafting my next PHAIAKIA novel.


  1. Interesting side note -- the husband of Laura Ingalls Wilder's sister, Carrie, accompanied Rushmore on his expedition.

  2. One day I'll get to Mount Rushmore! It's totally on the list! I love projects of such grand scale. And the fact that it's so well thought out is amazing!

  3. I don't even know how they began to figure out how much to blast where. A chisel is one thing but dynamite? Wow.