Nicolas Cage was right! There is a secret room at Mt. Rushmore

Yes, there absolutely is a secret, hidden room inaccessible to visitors at famed Mt. Rushmore. But what’s in it, and why is it off-limits?

Ok, so the National Treasure movies aren’t exactly historically accurate, but there’s a sort-of half-truth that finds its way into National Treasure 2. There really is a secret, inaccessible room tucked into the bedrock of Mt. Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Spoiler alert: it’s not filled with ancient treasures. Sorry.

So then, what is this “secret room;” who built it, and for what purpose?

via Daily Odds & Ends

Well, it all starts with Mt. Rushmore designer Gutzon Borglum’s initial vision for the famed mountain carving.

While we all know Mt. Rushmore as 4 shoulder-up busts of American presidents, Borglum initially designed Mt. Rushmore to feature each president all the way down to his waist. Another part of his grand design was a room carved deep into the mountain where we could store our country’s most sacred documents dubbed the “Hall of Records.”

Of course, we know Borglum wasn’t able to carve the presidents to their waists as intended, and sadly his Hall of Records never came to full fruition either.

True to Borglum’s personality, he designed the Hall of Records to be quite over-the-top… It would feature a grand hall of nearly 8,000 square feet with an 800-ft stairway to access it. Inside, a giant bronze eagle would welcome visitors, and the walls would be lined with busts of notable patriots as well as lists of American accomplishments.

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Instead, the Hall of Records would amount to an unfinished dugout just behind Lincoln.

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The Hall of Records isn’t completely empty, though. In 1998, park officials placed a wooden box filled with porcelain panels featuring the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, a Borglum biography, and short bios on each president on Mt. Rushmore inside the Hall of Records.

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The box is guarded by a 3/4 ton slab of granite and the entire area is closed to the public.

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So the next time your kids watch National Treasure 2, you can let them know there really is a secret room at Mt. Rushmore. It just happens to hold a box of porcelain panels, not a priceless treasure.

Visitors to the famous monument can also learn more about Borglum’s original vision for Mt. Rushmore by visiting the “Sculptor’s Studio” near the main viewing platform.

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