Behind the stone images of those four famous presidents in the hills of South Dakota lies a remnant of the planned “Hall of Records,” a museum feature of the structure that was abandoned and never completed.
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Original plans for Mount Rushmore included carving the presidents all the way down to their waists, instead of just their heads. Inside was to be the Hall of Records, a chamber stretching 80 by 100 feet with an 800-foot staircase leading up to it.
Designer Gutzon Borglum’s idea was to fill the room with important documents like the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence that would explain why the monument was built in case explorers from future civilizations should stumble upon it, History explains.
But much to Borglum’s dismay, this never happened. Congress shut down the idea shortly after construction began, leaving an unfinished 70-foot tunnel behind the Mount Rushmore faces.
But that’s not all. In 1998, a titanium vault describing Mount Rushmore’s construction was placed in the tunnel’s entryway. Borglum’s family entered the chamber as the vault was lowered into place. No visitors to the park have entered since, though staff can access it if necessary.
Today, a visit to Mount Rushmore includes little more than staring at those solemn stone faces from afar. But it may tickle your fancy to know that if they need to, these presidents can always have a party in the back room.