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American Experience: Mount Rushmore

8 pm Tuesday, July 2, on WILL-TV. Mount Rushmore's story is as bizarre and wonderful as the monument itself.

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

High on a granite cliff in South Dakota’s Black Hills tower the huge carved faces of four American presidents. Together they constitute the world’s largest sculpture. The massive tableau inspires awe and bemusement.

How, and when, was it carved? Who possessed the audacity to create such a gargantuan work? The story of Mount Rushmore’s creation is as bizarre and wonderful as the monument itself. It is the tale of a hyperactive, temperamental artist whose talent and determination propelled the project, even as his ego and obsession threatened to tear it apart. It is the story of hucksterism and hyperbole, of a massive public works project in the midst of an economic depression. And it is the story of dozens of ordinary Americans who suddenly found themselves suspended high on a cliff face with drills and hammers as a sculptor they considered insane, Gutzon Borglum, directed them in the creation of what some would call a monstrosity and others a masterpiece. Michael Murphy narrates.

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