Last Man Who Worked on the Construction of Mount Rushmore Dies at 98

Most construction workers have a project that they're most proud of working on. This man's just so happened to be a national monument.

Shutterstock/ Vern Faber

Donald “Nick” Clifford was the last surviving member of the construction crew that built one of the United States’ great national landmarks, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. He passed away late November at a hospice in his home state of South Dakota.

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According to the Associated Press, Clifford was 98 when he died. He was hired to work on Mount Rushmore at the young age of 17, making him the youngest person to work on the project. Clifford worked as a laborer, drilled holes for dynamite in the face of the mountain, and operated a winch that carried other workers up and down the mountain.

Clifford was one of over 400 workers who contributed to the building of Mount Rushmore. He worked on the national memorial site for three years, earning a wage of 55 cents an hour. 

Clifford and his wife, Carolyn, wrote a book telling his story and the story of Mount Rushmore’s construction that was published in 2004. He would regularly return to the Mount Rushmore bookstore to sign copies.

“I feel like Mount Rushmore was the greatest thing with which I was ever involved,” Clifford said in a 2016 interview. “It tells a story that will never go away — the story of how America was made and the men who helped make it what it is today.”