1923, Doane Robinson
Doane Robinson was the State Historian for South Dakota who read about Gutzon Borglum's efforts at Stone Mountain and conceived of a project to sculpt granite outcroppings of the Black Hills known as "the Needles" into sculptures. These forms would celebrate the pioneering spirit, depicting men and women of the frontier, as well as Native Americans men and women. The sculptures would provide a definite draw for automobile-born tourists, something that Robinson was eager to promote for his beloved home state.
Robinson initially approached sculptor Lorado Taft, but Taft declined the invitation due to personal health reasons. Robinson next approached Gutzon Borglum in 1924, who expressed interest in the project. Robinson's initial attempts to secure state funding for the sculptures of the Needles met with failure, but the state cleared him for doing survey work within Custer State Park while looking for suitable sites. (PBS)