PIERRE, S.D. – Many have heard of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, but not nearly as many have heard of the man who helped manage the Memorial’s finances and kept it from overspending. John Boland’s work for the very first Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission makes him one of South Dakota’s Great Faces.
Boland was born in Keystone, S.D., in 1884. He owned his father’s general store and the Rapid City Implement Company, worked in a mine and served as mayor of Rapid City before beginning his work with Mount Rushmore. While Boland served as mayor, sculptor Gutzon Borglum was invited to the city by historian Doane Robinson to propose the carving of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
After hearing the proposal, Boland said to his wife, “I heard a pretty attractive proposition tonight. If we can pull it off, it might be a great thing for the (Black) Hills.”
As an early supporter, Boland led the Black Hills fundraising drive for the memorial. In 1929, he was named the first president of the executive committee of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission, known today as the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society. As president and general manager, Boland was responsible for the project’s finances. His loyalty to the Memorial ensured adequate funding, even through the depths of the Great Depression.
Boland also served as president of the old Alex Johnson Hotel Co., another well-known fixture in the Black Hills tourism industry.
South Dakota’s Great Faces weekly press release series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism, designed to highlight people who have had significant impacts on South Dakota, particularly in the visitor industry. Click on the special “South Dakota’s Great Faces” link at www.MediaSD.com to access the complete list of articles.