Clicking on the Web: New website with 3D capabilities

by Howard Lestrud 

It’s never too early to plan a summer vacation.

One of my favorite tourist spots over the years has been Mount Rushmore, located in the heart of the Black Hills near Rapid City, S.D.

Viewing the four presidents carved in rock above the Black Hills creates a breathless, patriotic feeling.

If you can’t wait to visit Mount Rushmore, take a virtual tour of the 60-foot granite carvings of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

Go to

Associated Press writer Kristi Eaton recently did a piece on the new laser photography project that allows web visitors to explore more remote areas of the Mount Rushmore memorial than what many visitors see in person.

Let’s read part of Eaton’s article that appeared on the Minneapolis Star Tribune website at

“Three-dimensional laser technology scans that captured every nook of the four presidential faces and other features of the monument last year mean that starting Tuesday, visitors will be able to take in-depth tours online of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in western South Dakota.

“The portal, comprised of models of the monument, allows people remote access to the site to plan a visit or explore unusual areas, said Maureen McGee-Ballinger, the memorial’s director of interpretation and education.

“The monument draws about three million in-person visitors a year.

“Online users are able to manipulate or dissect the three-dimensional models in various ways to learn more about the 60-foot granite carvings of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln, McGee-Ballinger said.

“Crews scanned the entire monument and other features of the park in 2010 for historic documentation and preservation. . .

“The project is a five-year collaboration between the National Park Service and CyArk, a nonprofit project of the Kacyra Family Foundation based in Orinda, Calif.

The Scottish government also provided resources and technology to perform the 3-D laser documentation, McGee-Ballinger said.

Some of the sights and experiences that virtual visitors to the memorial will be able to take in that they couldn’t in person are climbing to the top of the structure or accessing the Hall of Records behind the presidents’ heads, said Elizabeth Lee, director of operations at CyArk. . .”

Here’s what is available when going to the new virtual site featuring 3-D laser work:

• Multimedia – View all photos, drawings, videos, and other content through a searchable thumbnail gallery

• 3D Content – Access all 3D content available for the site including point clouds and 3D models

• Site Information – Browse all textual information for the site, supplemented with multimedia images

• GIS – Navigate through different areas of the site via basemaps and associated geo-referenced data

• Virtual Tour – Experience an immersive, self-guided tour of the site through linked panoramic images, maps, and narration

Either prior to or following a virtual tour of Mount Rushmore, go to some other informational sites that will help provide some historical background to the creation of this great American iconic adventure.

Visit the National Park Service website featuring Mount Rushmore:

“The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.”

–Gutzon Borglum

Read from the National Park Service website about history of Mount Rushmore:

“Mount Rushmore National Memorial is host to almost three million visitors a year from across the country and around the world.

“They come to marvel at the majestic beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota and to learn about the birth, growth, development and the preservation of our country.

“Over the decades, Mount Rushmore has grown in fame as a symbol of America-a symbol of freedom and hope for people from all cultures and backgrounds.

“All the cultures that make up the fabric of this country are represented by the memorial and surrounding Black Hills.

“One of the most important gifts given visitors at Mount Rushmore National Memorial is an understanding and love for our nation’s history and cultures and an appreciation of the importance of caring for that legacy.

“Gutzon Borglum teamed up with the Hearst newspapers in 1934 to sponsor a contest.

“This submission, by a young Nebraskan named William Andrew Burkett, triumphed in the college-age category.”

Wikipedia says that on Oct. 15, 1966, Mount Rushmore was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A 500-word essay giving the history of the United States by Burkett was selected as the college-age group winner in a 1934 competition, and that essay was placed on the Entablature on a bronze plate in 1973.

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush officially dedicated Mount Rushmore.

Find Wikipedia’s account of Mount Rushmore at

Mount Rushmore was sculpted by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son Lincoln.

The entire memorial covers 1,278.45 acres (5.17 km2) and is 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level.

The mountain containing the sculptures of four presidents was named after Charles E. Rushmore, a prominent New York lawyer, during an expedition in 1885.

Editor’s note: Howard Lestrud is ECM online managing editor.