Sunday, October 30, 2016

On the Road Again (Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Memorial)

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is certainly a sight to behold after traveling more than a thousand miles -- the majestic busts of  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln carved out of granite in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Sculptor Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941), with the assistance of 400 workers over 14 years (1927-41), used dynamite and jackhammers to construct this piece of earthly art of Harney Peak granite. He selected these four great leaders for symbolic reasons in our country's history: Washington (birth), Jefferson (expansion), Lincoln (preservation), and Roosevelt (development).

Borglum bust at Mount Rushmore
Borglum has an interesting and controversial past, from being involved in the initial carving of Stone Mountain in Georgia to being a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Read more about him here

Mount Rushmore attracts about three million visitors a year. I was thankful that I arrived in the off season because there weren't long lines to the entrance. 

Scale models in Borglum's studio
By the way, you can see the memorial from several vantage points without entering the park. Click here for some facts about the memorial. While there you can hike to the base of the memorial, tour Borglum's studio, and visit the gift shop and information center. 

Sixteen miles away is another landmark -- the Crazy Horse Memorial. The site is a work in progress as only the head of the legendary Indian has been carved. The work was started by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski (1908-1982) in 1948 and has been carried on by his family. Ziolkowski worked with Borglum at Mount Rushmore in 1939.

Face of Crazy Horse

In addition to the massive sculpture that will be carved out of the granite hilltop, the memorial campus includes an Education and Conference Center, Indian Museum of North America, Korczak's studio, restaurant, gift shop, and theater.

I recently read that it will take a hundred years to complete the Crazy Horse sculpture. A park guide informed me that Korczak worked alone for many years, and only today there are 16 workers at the site. The guide said it would probably take 15 years just to finish the outstretched arm and hand. 
Scale model and memorial

Compare that to the 400 it took to finish Mount Rushmore and you'll get an idea about how long it will take. It won't be during my lifetime, or probably that of my grandchildren. Maybe great grandchildren. 

Another interesting item is that the memorial does not take federal or state funds; it's strictly a private endeavor through the nonprofit Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.

I suggest watching the short film in the learning center about Ziolkowski and his inspiring work at the memorial.  His motto was: "Never forget your dreams." And the dream lives on.

After leaving Crazy Horse, we drove through the southern tip of the Badlands region, near Custer State Park. It was a landscape that certainly earned its name. More about that later.

You can see more images at my Facebook page by clicking here.

Next stop: Deadwood, Belle Fourche and Devil's Tower.

Until the next time....

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