Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Preserving Mount Rushmore On The End Of A Rope

National Park Service
National Park Service

This week there are climbers on Mount Rushmore.   A preservation team is updating equipment critical to maintaining the sculpture.

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial Preservation Team is scaling up and down the faces through Friday. Their purpose is to install new systems that measure cracks in the granite. The data gathered from the old machines had to be downloaded physically at the top of the sculpture. The new system gathers and sends data in real time to the Park Service below.

Maureen McGee-Ballinger is the Chief of Interpretation and Education at Mount Rushmore. She says the technology is making the sculpture’s preservation so much easier.

“Each head has cracks on it. We label each crack by the head so for example a crack on George Washington would be W-1, if that were the first one we were monitoring. So we not only want to know, is it changing, but we have now 3D capability that we can forecast how deep that crack might go and is it likely to join another one?” says McGee Ballinger.

Park facilities and visitor centers are open for the whole week. However, the Presidential Trail, directly below the faces, is closed as crews work above.