The Black Hills Travel Blog

Rushmore’s ‘secret room’

By • May 18th, 2009 • Category: Discoveries

Hall of Records

Paranoia strikes deep. Especially on the Internet.  Case in point: Yahoo Answers. Someone in the office came across this thread dealing with “secret rooms” inside the heads of Mount Rushmore.

“I seem to recall sometime in my past that I watched a program that showed ‘secret’ government room in at least one of the heads on Mount Rushmore. At the time of the airing, they were no longer used therefore no longer secret…. I think… Does anyone else know of this?”

A number of people pointed out, correctly, that there is a Hall of Records, an unfinished chamber in the wall of the canyon behind the heads of Mount Rushmore.

If you believe the “Team America:  World Police” cartoon was fiction, then maybe you’ll believe that Mount Rushmore is not hollow. The Hall of Records is an intriguing part of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, but it houses no dark conspiracies.

It’s a 20-foot- tall tunnel carved 70 feet into the rock face. It just dead-ends – left unfinished after sculptor Gutzon Borglum’s death in 1941 and changing national priorities as the United State inched toward World War II. Borglum had planned to turn the Hall of Records into a repository for important documents and other pieces of American history.

In 1998, a portion of Borglum’s Hall of Records plan was completed. A small, square hole was carved into the floor of the chamber, and porcelain plates containing reproductions of the Constitution and other documents were sealed inside it.

Other than that, there’s nothing too mysterious about the Hall of Records. Last time I was there, the Hall of Records was being used to stash launch tubes for the annual July 3 fireworks display.

Others on the Yahoo site, however, are not so sure.

“I have been told by an Airman (well before1998) that there is an entire secret bunker in Mt. Rushmore, to be used by the President and other important government officials in case of nuclear war or catastrophic disaster. If I recall correctly, it also was to be used as a treasury for important documents and works of art,” one person wrote. (I couldn’t tell if the writer was joking. I hope so.)

Talk about hollow heads. I’m sure there are secret bunkers for high government officials, but wouldn’t they be a little closer to Washington?

About the Author

is an on-again, off-again Black Hills resident since 1978. The Aberdeen native hit the road after high school, building houses in Boulder, working oil rigs on Colorado's Western Slope, delivering cars in California. In Wyoming and Idaho, he worked as a newspaper journalist. But the Black Hills kept luring him back. For 18 years, he wrote for the Rapid City Journal. The job gave him a chance to see the Hills from atop Mount Rushmore and the bottom of the Homestake Mine. Whenever possible, Dan grabs his dog Kody and heads to the Hills. These days, he's perfecting the art of low-impact backpacking: hike two hours to a scenic spot, break out the wine, cook up the pasta, watch the sunset and fall asleep under the stars.
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