One of the most unique and distinctive monuments in the world, Mount Rushmore is located in the Black Hills of Keystone, South Dakota. The Mount Rushmore National Memorial can be found in the western part of the state, not far from the border with Wyoming. Mount Rushmore itself is actually a batholith, which is a large, protruding section of rock, with a sculpture of four of the most famous Presidents of the United States on its face. The Mount Rushmore National Memorial covers an area of 1,278 acres in total and attracts several million visitors per year, being an iconic landmark for American citizens and international visitors. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.

1.Mount Rushmore (Elevation of Mount Rushmore)

Mount Rushmore (Elevation of Mount Rushmore)
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The sculpted faces at Mount Rushmore depict four key figures in American history and politics: the first President of the United States, George Washington; the third president and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson; the 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt; and the 16th president, who led the nation through civil war and helped to abolish slavery, Abraham Lincoln. Each sculpture measures up at 60 feet (18 m) in height, and the idea came from Jonah 'Doane' Robinson, a South Dakota historian.

Artist and sculptor Gutzon Borglum was given the task of designing and overseeing the construction of the sculptures. Robinson originally wanted to include various Old West figures and heroes, but Borglum settled on the idea of using presidents instead. Construction on the project began in 1927 and took many years to finish. The faces were gradually completed between 1934 and 1939, and the original idea was to continue down to their shoulders and chests, but a lack of funding and the death of Borglum in 1941 resulted in the project being terminated with simply the heads.

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2.Mount Rushmore Elevation

Mount Rushmore Elevation
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The elevation of a monument, memorial, town, city, mountain, or other key location tells us how high or low it is in relation to sea level. Many locations are above sea level, but some can technically be classed as being below it. Elevation is measured in feet or meters and can have a variety of practical uses. The elevation of Mount Rushmore is 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level. The elevation of the nearest city of Keystone is 4,331 feet (1,320 m). The average elevation of the United States is at 2,500 feet (760 m), so Mount Rushmore’s elevation is over twice as high as the national average.

South Dakota is actually the 13th highest state of all in terms of its average elevation. The highest point in the state of South Dakota is Black Elk Peak, which is a mountain located in Pennington County in the Black Hills National Forest at an elevation of 7,244 feet (2,208 m). Black Elk Peak is located just a few miles to the west of Mount Rushmore. The lowest point in all of South Dakota is Big Stone Lake, which stretches across the border into Minnesota and has an elevation of just 968 feet (295 m). The mean elevation in the state of South Dakota is 2,200 feet (670 m) and there's a difference of 6,276 feet (1,913 m) between the state's highest and lowest elevations.

The highest incorporated town or city in South Dakota is Custer, which is located in Custer County at an elevation of 5,315 feet (1,620 m). The town of Lead in Lawrence County is also very high at an average of 5,213 feet (1,589 m), with many parts of Lead being at higher elevations than Custer. Major cities in South Dakota include Sioux Falls, which has an elevation of 1,470 feet (448 m), Rapid City, which has an elevation of 3,202 feet (976 m), and Aberdeen, which has an elevation of 1,302 feet (397 m).

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3.Climate and Things to Do at Mount Rushmore

Climate and Things to Do at Mount Rushmore
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Weather conditions at Mount Rushmore follow a humid continental climate with warm summers and cold, snowy winters. The summers can see average highs above 78°F (25°C) and a lot of rainfall, as well as thunderstorms. The winters at Mount Rushmore feature a lot of heavy snowfall, with over 50 inches falling annually at the national memorial.

In spite of the cold weather conditions for long parts of the year, Mount Rushmore is the top tourist attraction in all of South Dakota, attracting several million visitors per year, both from the United States and abroad. On any given day, huge crowds of tourists can be seen snapping photos of the sculptures, and various scenic trails and hikes can also be enjoyed in the surrounding area.

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Elevation of Mount Rushmore

Attraction Spotlight in SD: Badlands National Park

Located in southwestern South Dakota in the United States, Badlands National Park is a 240,000-acre park operated by the National Park Service, protecting the largest preserved mixed grass prairie in the country. Human occupation of the Badlands area traces back more than 11,000 years, when Paleoindian spear hunters camped out in the area’s secluded valleys in search of big game.


Their descendants, the Arikara indigenous people, were the predecessors of the modern-day Lakota tribe, which encompassed seven bands of tribes comprising the Great Sioux Nation at the time of the arrival of European settlers in North America.

During the pioneer period of the late 19th century, the United States government displaced indigenous tribes across the country, claiming their land as state territory and relocating them to designated reservations. In 1890, one of the most notable clashes between Plains Native Americans and the United States military occurred in the form of the Wounded Knee Massacre, which killed more than 300 indigenous people under the leadership of Chief Spotted Elk. Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Badlands area became a popular site for fossil hunters and homesteaders, although many houses and excavation sites were abandoned during the Great Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

The area was designated as Badlands National Monument in January of 1939, although 337 acres of the monument were seized by the United States Army Air Force with the advent of World War II, along with 340,000 acres of land belonging to the Oglala Sioux as part of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. In 1978, the Badlands area was permanently protected as a National Park.

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Today, the park encompasses more than 242,000 acres throughout southwestern South Dakota. Eroded pinnacles, buttes, and spires formed in layers by volcanic ash and river deposits and erosion cover the park’s terrain, which is anchored by the country’s largest extant mixed grass prairie landscape. Many geologic formations within the park trace back around 500,000 years, and are expected to fully erode away within another 500,000, eroding at a rate of one inch per year. More than 400 plant species grow throughout the park, including western wheatgrass, which forms the foundation of the prairie ecosystem. Dozens of mammal, reptile, amphibian, avian, and insect species are found within the park, including bison, pronghorns, wild sheep, and prairie dogs.

Reopened in 2006 after major renovations, the Ben Reifel Visitor Center serves as an entrance for the park, featuring a number of interactive and digital exhibits focusing on the natural and cultural history of the Badlands area. The park is split into two major units, a northern Wilderness Area that preserves more than 64,000 acres of open land, and the southern Stronghold Unit, which is co-managed by the Oglala Lakota tribe and the National Park Service. The northern unit may be explored via automobile using the Highway 240 Badlands Loop Road, a two-lane paved road accessible from Interstate 90. Several scenic overlooks are provided, including the White River Valley Overlook, the Big Foot Pass Overlook, and the Conata Basin Overlook. In the north end of the wilderness area, the Sage Creek Rim Road, a gravel natural road, provides access to more overlooks during favorable weather conditions. The Stronghold Unit, located within the lands of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, showcases important sites and artifacts from area Native American history, including the sites of 1890s tribal Ghost Dances and the former WWII U.S. Air Force gunnery area, which is still littered with unexploded weaponry today.

A number of hiking trails of varying difficulty are offered for visitors, including the beginner Door Trail, which provides a quarter-mile boardwalk, the Fossil Exhibit Trail, which features displays of fossil replicas and information on extinct species that once populated the area, and the advanced-level Notch Trail and Saddle Pass, which provide views of the White River Valley. Two campgrounds, the Cedar Pass Campground, located near the visitor center, and the Sage Creek Campground, are provided for overnight stay. Backcountry camping is also permitted in both units, and the Cedar Pass Lodge, operated by Forever Resorts, is located within the park’s grounds for visitors seeking indoor lodging. Bicycle paths are provided along the park’s major roads and trails, including Badlands Loop Road.

A night sky observation program is offered on weekend evenings throughout the summer months, offering a lecture series presented by park rangers. Participants may use telescopes provided by the Badlands Natural History Association to view astronomical objects under the guidance of park staff. The Badlands Astronomy Festival, a three-day event with workshops by astronomy experts, is presented by the park every June.

25216 Ben Reifel Road, Interior, SD 57750, Phone: 605-433-5361

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Attraction Spotlight in SD: National Music Museum

The National Music Museum is located in Vermillion, South Dakota. It is one of the most prominent organizations of it’s type in the world, with 1,200 instruments displayed in its halls and over 15,000 in it’s possession. The National Music Museum was established in 1973 on the University of South Dakota’s campus in Vermillion.


It is one of the most prominent music museum’s in the world. The Museum boasts an extensive collection of musical instruments, includes pieces from Non-Western, European, and American historical eras and cultures.

The collection of the National Music Museum spans five hundred years of culture and ranges from invaluable Italian violins to guitars used by celebrities. It includes a large variety of different musical instruments. The museum has an extensive archive of materials related to it’s instruments and is the only institution in North America to offer a musical instrument graduate degree. It is also a center for research on musical instruments.

The National Music Museum was established in collaboration with the University of South Dakota. The University provides facilities and staff for teaching, research, and preservation to the museum. The National Music Council has recognized the National Music Museum as “A Landmark of American Music.”


The National Music Museum offers an extensive collection of instruments for visitor to view, though only a small portion of them are on display. The collection includes over 15,000 non-Western, European, and American instruments. All cultures, and time periods are represented. The collection also includes some of the best-preserved and most important instruments in history.

· Bowed Stringed Instruments- The Non-Western instruments in this collection includes instruments from East Asia, India, North Africa, Western/Central Asia, Oceania, instruments North America’s indigenous population, and instruments used in the piece Kyai Rengga Manis Everist. The Europe and United States instruments in this collection include those created before 1800, instruments designed by Andrea Amati, instruments that were produced in Brescia, those made in Paris and Italy, instruments designed by Carleen Maley Hutchins, and the Meisel Family, and sixteenth and seventeenth century instruments.

· Brass Instruments- Non-Western instruments in this collection include those from East Asia, India, North Africa, Western/Central Asia, Oceania, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Nepal. Instruments in this part of the collection from North American and Europe include those produced before 1800, sixteenth and seventeenth century instruments, instruments made by Graves & Company, and instruments from the Utley collection.

· Electric and Electronic Instruments- Instruments in this part of the collection come from Europe, Japan, and the United States. They include Epiphone Guitars, Fender Guitars, Electric Guitars made by Gibson, instruments made by Lloyd Loar and include their speakers and amplifiers, guitars designed by Semie Moseley, and Vivi-Tone, instruments.

· Free Reed Instruments- This part of the collection includes non-Western instruments from East Asia, India and Oceania, Instruments from Europe, Japan, and the United States include those from the Alan G. Bates Harmonica collection.

· Keyboard Instruments- This part of the collection includes instruments from the United States and Europe such as keyboards, clavichords, clavier, experimental keyboards, harpsichords, mechanical keyboards, orphica, pianos, and pipe organs.

· Percussion Instruments- Non-Western instruments in this part of the collection include pieces from East Asia, India, North Africa, Western/Central Asia, Oceania, Sub-Saharan Africa Tibet and Nepal, and America’s indigenous people. The instruments from America and Europe include pieces from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, drums from the William F. Ludwig II Drum Collection, brass drums, snare drums, and timpani.

· Plucked String Instruments- Non-Western instruments in this part of the collection include pieces from East Asia, India, North Africa, Oceania, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Tibet and Nepal. European instruments and United States instruments include those produced before 1800, sixteenth and seventeenth century instruments, instruments designed by Carl and August Larson, Lloyd Loar, Mario Maccaferri, Anastasios Stathopoulo, Stromberg, Gibson, Ludwig and Ludwig, and Franz Schwarzer.

· Woodwind Instruments- Non-Western instruments in this collection include pieces from East Asia, India, North Africa, Western/Central Asia, Oceania, Sub-Saharan Africa, Tibet and Nepal, and instruments from North American’s indigenous people. Instruments from United the United States, and Europe include pieces from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, bagpipes, bassoons, clarinets fifes, flutes, oboes, piccolos, recorders, saxophones, and veltschamalmey

Educational Opportunities

The National Music museum offers two types of internships for those wishing to pursue them.

Curatorial Internship- The curatorial intern helps with routine curatorial tasks such as inventory management, archival management, accessioning, marketing and social media, gallery development, loans, special exhibitions, and cataloging,

Arne B Larson Internship- This internship restricts it’s focus to studying American bands, band music, musical instruments, and music. It gives interns a practical opportunity to get hands on experience in developing, designing, and producing, instruments, and the history of the industry.


The museum offers a gift shop for visitors who wish to purchase mementos of their visit.

414 E. Clark St Vermillion, South Dakota 57069, Phone: 605-677-5306

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Attraction Spotlight in SD: Black Hills Central Railroad

The Black Hills Central Railroad is also known as the 1880 Train and is located in Hill City, South Dakota. Passengers will enjoy the twenty mile, narrated, two-hour round trip from Hill City to Keystone and back. For centuries the Black Hills have attracted cultures of different kinds that value it for it beauty and natural resources as well as it spiritual nature.


The development of the railroad and the trains that ran on it, is the most significant development in American Frontier history. The railroad traversed the plains, climbed into the mountains and served to bring settlers to the areas that had long been the home to only native tribes. Whether the railroad’s influence and efficiency were positive or negative, it was a manifestation of this country’s journey to prosper and grow.

In 1879 the steam engine was hauled across the Midwest to the Homestake Mining Company. The first railroad in Black Hills was built in 1881 by the mining company. It used this narrow- gauge railroad to haul workers and cargo from Lead to various mining camps.

During the mining boom of the Black Hills in the 1890s, the first standard-gauge railroad was constructed in various portions between Keystone and Hill City. It was part of the Burlington branch of railroads. The rail line was pushed into South Dakota’s southwest corner in 1889 and in 1890, the beginning phase of the “High Line” construction was started.

Late in the 1940s, diesel engines began to replace the earlier steam engines of the railroad. Because of the decline in use of these steam engines, William B Heckman made the decision to construct a railroad that exclusively operated steam engines rather than using them as a static display. Heckman along with Robert Freer formed a group that believed in the idea that at least one steam railroad should be in operation.

The route was given the nickname “the 1880 Train,” as Heckman envisioned it to be similar to riding the steam locomotives of the 1880s. The Black Hills Central Railroad is still living up to Heckman’s vision of providing new generations a way of experiencing the old steam locomotives and honoring the part that these railroads played in America’s development, fifty years later.


The 1880 Train provides passengers with a twenty-mile round trip from Hill City to Keystone and back again that lasts two hours and is narrated. This offers new generations a way of experiencing the old steam locomotives of the early railroads in the 1880s.

Hill City, is a repository of old passenger, maintenance, freight cars and locomotives that were once and still are in use on the railroad. Visitors can explore these cars and their history when visiting the train depot. Some of them are listed below.

· Steam Locomotive #7- Known as the “Seven,” this locomotive was purchased by the Prescott and Northwestern railroad in 1938 and sold to the BHC in 1962.

· Steam Locomotive #104- This locomotive is a 2-6-2 tank engine that was constructed by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1926. It was built for Silver Falls Timber Company in Oregon and the Peninsula Terminal Railroads also in Oregon. The BHC obtained #104 along with its twin #103 in 1965. It has been used continuously on the railroad since its acquisition.

· Steam Locomotive #110- This locomotive is 2-6-6 2T Mallet, constructed in 1928 by Baldwin Locomotive Works. It was built for Weyerhaeuser Timber Company of Vail, WA. It was used by the Rayonier Lumber Company where it retired in 1968. BHC purchased the locomotive in 1999. It was transported to South Dakota all the way from Nevada, using four semis. After it’s restoration was finished in 2001, it was put back into to service for BHC and is the only locomotive of its kind in service in the world.

· Diesel Locomotive #1- This locomotive is a 1940-vintage Whitcomb diesel engine. It was constructed for the Department of Defense and then operated in Washington State during the years of World War II. It was sold to Black Hills Power and Light and used for switching. The BHC obtained the locomotive in 1983 and uses it for switching on the railroad.

· Drovers Waycar #10800 Hillyo- This car was used ahead of the caboose by ranchers and stockowners that were accompanying their cattle on the way to market.

Special Events

The 1880 Train takes part in several special events a year. See the website for dates and events.


The 1880 Train offers the High-Liner Snack shop for passengers to enjoy while waiting or to take on the train with them. The train itself also offers a variety of snacks and drinks for purchase.

222 Railroad Ave. Hill City, SD 57745, Phone: 605-574-2222

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