Mount Rushmore attracts over 2 million visitors each year… all with cameras out, he busts of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln are probably the most photographed stone sculptures in the world, but back when they first designed Mount Rushmore, this icon was supposed to look very, very different...

For starters, Thomas Jefferson should be in a totally different spot… Sculptor Gutzon Borglum originally wanted Jefferson on the left of George Washington, but when the dynamite blasting began, they realized the area just wouldn’t work, so ta-da… Thomas Jefferson is now in a completely different spot...

The positioning of Thomas Jefferson isn’t the only difference between the early plans for  Mount Rushmore and what you see today… Did you know Susan B. Anthony was supposed to be up there too? That’s right. Shortly after Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln’s faces were completed and dedicated in 1937, a bill was introduced in Congress to add her face to the mix, but times were tough, and an appropriations bill limited funding for adding another head. Teddy Roosevelt’s head would be added and dedicated as planned in 1939, but no Susan B. Anthony. At least she got a shout-out on a coin (the first real-life woman ever placed on U.S. currency, by the way)...

Speaking of funding cutbacks…. Mount Rushmore, as you see it today, isn’t even done… Congress turned off the money, Gutzon Borglum died, and his son Lincoln was left with a de-funded project. They were only able to create the busts of the 4 greats… Not the full waist-up portraits as Gutzon had originally designed.

Even though there’s no Susan B. Anthony, and even though Thomas Jefferson is to the right, not left of Washington, and even though it’s just 4 heads and not waist-up portraits, we think Rushmore is still pretty badass. So do the 2 million other people making the trek to see it.

Not only is Mount Rushmore awesome, but so is the drive to get to it. Here’s your guide to the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, the gateway to Mount Rushmore.


More on the building of Mount Rushmore from the Smithsonian

Also, did you know Mount Rushmore has a secret room? Yeah... See why here.