Mount Rushmore-Style Monument to Be Carved into the Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is getting a facelift – four faces to be exact! A quartet of America’s most influential figures will be immortalized in the Smokies with a brand new monument patterned after Mount Rushmore. This ambitious new project was announced by the National Park Service in a press release this morning. We have summarized the press release below.
Famous Faces in the Mountains
The new monument in the national park will honor four American icons with ties to the Great Smoky Mountains:
Franklin Delano Roosevelt – The 32nd President of the United States dedicated the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1940.
Dolly Parton – The country music legend and Smoky Mountain native has created thousands of jobs in Sevier County, TN with her Dollywood theme park and other business endeavors.
Peyton Manning – The hugely successful quarterback first came to prominence playing for the University of Tennessee, which is located 40 minutes from the Smoky Mountains.
Donald Trump – The 45th President of the United States received 78% of the vote in Sevier County in the 2016 election and has championed the construction of the monument.
In the National Park Service press release, Emily Davidson, the Sevierville-based artist who designed the monument, explains how these disparate figures were chosen for the sculpture:
“These four people truly embody the essence of the Smoky Mountains’ culture and identity. FDR personifies conservation and protection of our natural resources. Dolly exemplifies our generosity and creativity. Manning captures our competitive drive and perseverance. And President Trump reflects the hard-working, entrepreneurial spirit that has grown the Smoky Mountain towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge”.
Reactions from Dolly Parton, Peyton Manning, and President Trump
When news of the monument broke this morning, Dolly Parton told reporters that she was incredibly flattered to be included in the sculpture:
“This is a very special honor for me. You know, I’ve already been made into a statue in front of the courthouse in Sevierville, but that one is only five feet tall. This new one is going to be 60 feet – and that’s just my face! I may have to get a little more work done to get ready for my closeup!”
Peyton Manning was similarly humbled by the announcement, telling media outlets that he “feels so blessed to be up there with such good company”. Manning also mused that becoming a permanent fixture of the Smoky Mountains “might be even better than winning a Super Bowl…or two”.
President Trump, the other living person to be featured on the monument, took to Twitter to express his delight with the project:
“Tennessee is building a 2nd Mount Rushmore with my face and faces of other GREAT Americans. Will be a beautiful monument we can be proud of!”
According to a number of news reports, President Trump was instrumental in procuring federal funding for the construction of the monument. The sculpture is estimated to cost around $17.8 million and is being described by the president as “truly magnificent”.
Construction of the Monument
The new sculpture will be carved into Mount LeConte, the highest mountain peak that is located completely within the state of Tennessee. At 6,593 feet tall, Mount LeConte provides a generous “canvas” that is even larger than Mount Rushmore, which is 5,275 feet tall. Each face on the mountainside will stretch for 60 feet.
Constructing the monument will be a complex undertaking that will require a crew of thousands. In the official press release, artist Emily Davidson gives some insight into the process of carving the mountain:
“First, I will sculpt a six foot tall model of the monument in my studio. If possible, I will have Dolly, Peyton, and President Trump sit for me, so I can get the details of their faces just right. Then, a team of engineers will look over my plans to begin hand-carving the full-scale version into the side of Mount LeConte.”
Davidson hopes to have the designs for the sculpture finalized by the end of spring. Construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2017 and will likely continue until 2026.
Track the Progress of the Monument
For the latest updates on the Mount LeConte monument, don’t check back here. This entire story has been an April Fools’ Day joke! The side of Mount LeConte will remain untouched and just as beautiful as always.
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Thank you for playing along with us for this April Fool’s Day joke! While the national park may not be getting a new monument, there are so many wonderful things to see and do in the Smokies.
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