Mount Rushmore Society Celebrates 90 Years!

Mount Rushmore Society Celebrates 90 Years! The Mount Rushmore Society (Society) is celebrating its 90th Anniversary of supporting Mount Rushmore National Memorial with a Virtual 90th Anniversary Celebration on October 3, 2020 at 5 pm (MT).

Those wishing to celebrate with the organization can click hereto find out more. There is still time to donate $90 for 90 years and get your name in a drawing to win a Yellowstone National Park Getaway donated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts!

The Society has a long history with the park, even before it was completed. Through an Act of Congress, the Society was created in 1930 to solicit and manage private funds for the carving and provide citizens the opportunity to be involved in the Memorial through memberships.

In 1941, the Society became the first concessionaire in the park, specifically operating a gift shop in one of the original Sculptor Studios and operating the binocular concessions through the Tower Optical Company. This raised funds for park needs during that time.

In the 1950s, the original visitor center, amphitheater and gift shop were constructed at the park as part of the NPS Mission 66 initiative. The Society was there, repaying more than $750,000 in appropriations back to Congress for this construction and paving the way for more people to visit the park.

However, there is always change and need for more growth. By the 1990s, it was time to update facilities once again to account for increased visitation and more accessibility. The Society embarked on the Mount Rushmore Preservation Fund for the redevelopment at the park, which resulted in $56 million raised to construct the buildings seen today, including the original Avenue of Flags. The Society also built a new parking garage, which the organization operated for 20 years. It was then turned over to the National Park Service debt free in 2016.

Educating the visitor has always been part of the mission. As an example, in 1986, the Society produced the movie viewed daily in the Lincoln Borglum Museum by thousands of visitors to introduce them to the history of the park.

They also produced the award-winning movie, Freedom: America’s Lasting Legacy, viewed during the Evening Lighting Ceremony beginning in 2000. With its debut, the Evening Lighting Ceremony became the largest attended evening program in the park service.

The Society opened the Mount Rushmore Bookstores in 1993, providing educational books and products reviewed by the National Park Service for the public. Presently, these stores are located in the Information Center, Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center and Sculptor’s Studio.

As an additional service, the Society created Mount Rushmore Self-Guided Tours over 10 years ago, which is a recorded, multimedia guide incorporating narration, music, interviews, sound effects, photos, video and historic recordings of Gutzon Borglum, Lincoln Borglum, American Indians and workers. Also included in the tour is the Junior Ranger Quest game, a new adventure that allows kids of all ages to participate in the Junior Ranger Program, virtually. The Junior Ranger Quest is available for FREE DOWNLOAD in the Apple Store and Google Play.

To expand the organization’s retail footprint, the Society won the contract in 2015 for operating Mount Rushmore Memories Airport Store at Rapid City Regional Airport. The Society also opened Mount Rushmore Memories on Main in 2018 to be the first point of contact with visitors and locals with Black Hills gifts and awareness of the area to bolster tourism.

In addition, the Society has fundraised and completed the following:
The $325,000 Youth Exploration Area, a kid-friendly space where rangers provide educational programs inside the park about the carving, presidents, Lakota culture and more. The $200,000 rehabilitation of the Blackberry Trail for hiking and equestrian use. The trail can be accessed south of the Mount Rushmore parking garage. The Society donated $500,000 over a 5-year period to be used specifically for sculpture preservation, which includes the ropes team that periodically inspects the carving for cracks and fissures in the rock and repairs them.

Going forward, the Society is currently fundraising for the Monumental Movie Campaign, with the goal of updating the two movies the organization produced decades ago to ensure the message of Mount Rushmore continues to inspire and bring visitors face to face with the rich heritage we all share.