Year 2 Day 263 Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorials

This morning the low overcast was still hanging around but as the morning progressed, the clouds lifted exposing the mountains around us. Yea! We could now drive over to the Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorials and actually see them.

When we arrived at Mount Rushmore, memories began to rush past me. I was just 8 or 9 years old the last time I was here. On the way here 60 years ago, with my mom and dad, brothers and sister, I remembered that dad slowed the car down and we all rolled down our windows and moo’d at the cows that were munching grass along the side of the road. Good times!

Back in those days, Mount Rushmore was still a destination that people only dreamed about going to. It was so remote and hard to get to. The roads were just narrow two lanes and wound around sharp curves as one drove up into the mountains. When we arrived, I remember there was just a big asphalt parking lot and there was a pretty simple visitor’s center. If you would like to see what it was like driving up the narrow roads and then seeing what Mount Rushmore looked like way back in the 1950s, just Click Here to watch an old home movie that I found.

Today, as we arrived, we discovered huge, modern parking garages to park your car in, an elevator to take you to the entrance path to the totally cool and modern visitor’s center with awesome views of Mount Rushmore. Not trusting the clouds moving overhead, we rushed to take in the view and snap a number of photos.

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We were glad that we did because, after going into the Visitors Center, touring the exhibits and then watching a 15-minute movie of the history of the sculptor and his massive effects to carve the figures out of the mountain, we went back outside and discovered that fog had returned and you could no longer see the mountain. Whew! We were so thankful we took our pictures while we did.

We then decided to drive over to the Crazy Horse Memorial in hopes that the fog would have lifted by the time we arrived. It is about a 25-minute drive further up the mountains.

When we arrived, we were in luck as the clouds were above the mountain that was being sculpted into Crazy Horse. Again, the last time I was here was 60 or so years ago and the mountain had only been worked on for 10 years. You really could not make out anything back then. It was just a mountain which was slowly being blasted periodically to slowly carve out the sculpture that was still buried inside the middle of the mountain.

Today, so many decades later, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done, but you can see Crazy Horse’s face and the top of his outstretched arm, pointing over what will be the head of his horse. Unlike Mount Rushmore, which had federal funding to do the work, Crazy Horse is being done solely through donations and funds raised by people coming to see the work. The original sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski, has been dead for over 35 years and now the work is being continued by his kids. Such dedication!

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When it is done, this is what is should look like.

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No one can say when this sculpture will be completed because work is dictated by the funds they raise. However, if it has taken 60 years to get this far, my guess is that it will take another 100 or 200 years before it is complete. This undertaking is that large.

After snapping our photos and touring the massive Indian Cultural Center, it started misting. However, the timing was perfect as the Center announced that an Indian dance demonstration was about to begin. It was under a roofed open-air area so we were able to enjoy the hoop dance while staying dry. Here is a video of this Lakota woman doing her hoop dance.

To make the day complete, we also had dinner with my old high school classmate, Ed and his wife, Jeannie.20180920_202135

They picked us up at LeuC and then drove us into Custer State Park. Inside the park is the Blue Bell Lodge, where we had a wonderful buffalo dinner. Mary Margaret had their buffalo stew while I chowed down on a delicious buffalo steak smothered in mushrooms and swimming in a wine sauce. Yum!

It was great to have time just with Ed and his wife and we spent the evening catching up. It was wonderful as they are such nice and friendly people.

Tomorrow, we are off again goin’ down the road. This time our destination will be Devils Tower Monument in Wyoming.

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