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Mount Rushmore Honors Doane Robinson Family

6/24/2009
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(Keystone, SD) A special ceremony honoring three grandchildren of Doane Robinson will take place during Mount Rushmore National Memorial’s evening program and lighting ceremony on June 27. Superintendent Gerard Baker will be recognizing Will Robinson, Suzanne Dixon, and Barbara Nelson and the legacy of their grandfather, Doane Robinson, who is often referred to as the father of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Doane Robinson will be honored through his grandchildren for his vision which resulted in one of the most colossal works of art in the world. Robinson was South Dakota's first state historian, and he served in that post from 1901 to 1936. In 1923, during his tenure as the superintendent of the State Historical Society of South Dakota, Doane Robinson proposed his idea of carving giant American western heroic figures into the granite outcrops and spires of the of the Black Hills. Mr. Robinson first approached sculptor Lorado Taft about the idea of carving massive figures on some of the Black Hills granite pinnacles. Because of ill health, Taft could not accept the offer to examine the Black Hills granite. Through his acquaintance with United States Senator Peter Norbeck and based upon Norbeck's positive support and encouragement, Robinson then approached famous sculptor Gutzon Borglum who was engaged at that time in the Stone Mountain carving in Georgia. Robinson's famous 1924 letter to Borglum invited him to "design and supervise a massive sculpture" in the vicinity of Harney Peak. Borglum's affirmative response resulted in an exploration of the Black Hills which eventually resulted in the selection, Congressional approval, and carving of the now famous memorial.

Mr. Robinson's grandchildren: Suzanne Dixon from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Barbara Nelson from Yankton, South Dakota, and Will Robinson from Rapid City, South Dakota were associated, through their grandfather, with many historic milestones in the creation of Mount Rushmore.

-NPS-