KEYSTONE, S.D. — Officials have unveiled a marker honoring the man who developed the idea for Mount Rushmore.

The bronze marker unveiled Thursday declares Doane Robinson as “The Father of Mount Rushmore,” the Rapid City Journal reported ( ). It was funded by a contribution from Jerry Klinger of Derwood, Maryland through the nonprofit Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation and is posted three miles south of Keystone, outside of a tunnel named for Robinson in 2015.

Jay Vogt, of the State Historical Society, said it typically costs about $3,000 to post a historical marker. There are about 700 of them posted around South Dakota.

The Mount Rushmore Society’s development director, Gary Keller, said Robinson “ignited tourism here in western South Dakota.”

Mount Rushmore attracts more than 2 million visitors annually and contributes an estimated $3.8 billion in annual visitor spending to South Dakota’s tourism industry.

“We can never thank Doane Robinson enough,” said Michelle Thomson, CEO of the Black Hills and Badlands Tourism Association.

Robinson came up with the idea while serving as South Dakota’s state historian. In 1924, he wrote a letter inviting sculptor Gutzon Borglum to create a “heroic sculpture of unusual character.” Robinson initially thought Western heroes should be carved into sculptures to attract tourists. Borglum proposed carving the likenesses of presidents into the large granite face.

About 30 people attended the unveiling of the marker, including some of Robinson’s descendants and 95-year-old Don “Nick” Clifford, the only one of the nearly 400 workers who helped carve Mount Rushmore who is still alive.

Information from: Rapid City Journal,

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