The Mount Rushmore of …’

One of the reasons I know Mount Rushmore is a lasting cultural icon of worldwide significance is the regularity with which people use it in everyday conversation and writing.

Consider this example from yesterday’s Baltimore Sun:

[Greivis] Vasquez’s curtain call has been one of the finest single-season performances in Maryland men’s basketball history. But chiseling his face — including that big, busted-up honker — onto the Mount Rushmore of Maryland hoops next to Len Bias, Juan Dixon, Joe Smith and John Lucas is premature.

That kind of thing happens all the time. People are always talking or writing about the Mount Rushmore of this or the Mount Rushmore of that. Another common example of Mount Rushmore’s place in everyday conversation and writing is its use as a mental reference point. Here’s a recent example of that from MercuryNews.com, in San Jose, Calif., about a piece of art along a highway:

The image is as tall as the heads on Mount Rushmore.

Here’s a use of Mount Rushmore to describe someone’s personality, from today’s Sydney Morning Herald in Australia:

The man known in Brisbane as "Mount Rushmore" for often being stony faced, was glowing after the Reds’ big win over the Chiefs.

Additionally, stories get written with fairly predictable regularity about the possibility of adding another president’s face to Mount Rushmore. Those stories don’t usually presume that it’s possible to do such a thing. Instead, Mount Rushmore is used as a vehicle to start the conversation; e.g., "If there were room on Mount Rushmore for another face, which president would deserve the honor?"

I could go on all day citing references to Mount Rushmore in popular culture, but you get the point. Mount Rushmore is a pretty darn big deal. Its use in conversation and writing gives South Dakota free advertising every day all over the world, and it makes me wonder what South Dakota would be today if a small group of people hadn’t believed so fervently in Mount Rushmore’s potential so many years ago.

Categories: Black Hills, Western SD

About Author

Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper was born and raised in South Dakota and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2001. After college, he worked at a newspaper in Minnesota and then returned to South Dakota in 2003 to join the staff of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, where he is currently the publisher. Seth has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2007 Outstanding Young Journalist award in the daily newspapers category of the South Dakota Newspaper Association's Better Newspapers Contest. Seth's day-job and freelance work have granted him opportunities to meet hundreds of South Dakotans and travel across much of the state. He also spends a lot of his free time exploring South Dakota's state and national parks, hiking trails and kayak-friendly rivers.

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