Last surviving Mount Rushmore 'carver' guest at event

92-year-old was special guest at Mint quarter dollar ceremony
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Published : 12/24/13
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Donald “Nick” Clifford, 92, the last known surviving person to have worked on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota, was the special guest for the U.S. Mint’s official launch ceremony Nov. 6 for the 2013 Mount Rushmore National Memorial quarter dollar.

A native of Keystone, S.D., Clifford worked on the memorial in 1938, 1939, and 1940, focusing on carving portions of the portraits of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

Clifford began his work at the age of 17, although he had tried over the previous two years to get sculptor and project master Gutzon Borglum to hire him. Clifford’s eventual break came when Borglum assembled a number of the memorial’s workers into a baseball team, the Mount Rushmore Memorial Drillers.

Clifford signed on as an ace pitcher and outfielder before his perseverance resulted in his being hired by Borglum.

Clifford penned his experiences in his self-published book, Mount Rushmore Q&A: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions. The book can be found online at www.mountrushmorecarver.com.

Ceremony attracts 1,400

An estimated 1,400 people attended the Nov. 6 coin launch ceremony at the National Guard Armory in Custer, S.D. Following the ceremony, each of the event attendees under age 18 received a 2013-D Mount Rushmore National Memorial quarter dollar free.

First Interstate Bank from Custer conducted the coin exchange, during which 1,500 40-coin rolls of Uncirculated, circulation quality quarter dollars were exchanged for cash.

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial quarter dollar was released into general circulation on Nov. 4. ■

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