There is a 50-foot tunnel in a crevice behind Mt. Rushmore that was originally envisioned as a “Hall of Records” where copies of important United States documents and other artifacts were to be stored. The hall was never completed as envisioned; however the tunnel exists and a small cache of records was placed in a scaled-down version of the Hall in 1998 through the work of the Mt. Rushmore Historical Society.In a canyon behind the carved faces is a chamber, cut only 70 feet (21 m) into the rock, containing a vault with sixteen porcelain enamel panels. The panels include the text of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, biographies of the four presidents and Borglum, and the history of the U.S. The chamber was created as the entranceway to a planned “Hall of Records” that was never finished . The titanium vault was installed in 1998.
Posts Tagged With: Mt. Rushmore
It turns out that the monument sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, had an incredibly elaborate vision for the mountain that included much more than the four presidential heads we see today. He had wanted to carve the shape of the Louisiana Purchase into the mountain, and inside the shape, carve descriptions of the most significant events in American history. Logistically that plan wasn’t going to work out, so he created a new plan for a Hall of Records, with the goal of creating a repository for the story of our country for future civilizations. Documents in this repository would include our nation’s charter documents. Borglum had even started blasting and drilling out the cavity in the mountain for this chamber. Funding for the project was coming from the government, and they had asked that Borglum focus his efforts towards completing the faces before any more work was done on the Hall of Records. In 1941, Borglum died, and work on the project effectively came to a halt.
The idea of having a vault didn’t die though. Borglum’s original plan was revised a bit, but the intent remained, and in 1998, tablets with the story of our nation were sealed in a vault in the unfinished Hall of Records. Sixteen porcelain enamel panels containing the text from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, along with a biography of Borglum, and the story of the presidents, were sealed in a teakwood box, then placed in a titanium vault, and finally sealed shut under the weight of a 1,200 pound granite capstone inside the unfinished hall.
This is not a time capsule. These documents are to remain buried for thousands of years. Borglum literally had it in mind to send the message of our country to future civilizations. He said, “you might as well drop a letter into the world’s postal service without an address or signature, as to send that carved mountain into history without identification.”
Access to the Hall of Records is closed to the public. Because the Hall is located behind the heads, near the cliffs, public safety is a concern. Part of the story in the National Treasure movie apparently does take place in the Hall of Records, but what appears in the movie may only be aerial shots of the entrance. Set designers in Hollywood will recreate the rest. To get a glimpse of the entrance today, or to learn more about the Hall of Records, Rhonda had suggested this book which is available from the Mt Rushmore bookstore.