We have all seen photos and heard reports about this place in the middle of “nowhere” in South Dakota. It was a preposterous idea of a local SD official in the 1920’s and they snagged a sculptor, who was willing to dedicate his life to this project – Gutzon Borglum. But, when you get here, it’s magnificent; especially the combination of the daytime look and tour plus the nighttime program – a full amphitheater, a movie and then, the lights going on.
That’s the daytime left and right view…Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln.
Here’s the nighttime….Lots of emotions and tears of patriotism at the nighttime deal…they asked all former and present service men & women to come down on stage to take down the flag….they had 100 people come down…then, we all sang the National Anthem together and the park ranger asked each service person to say their name and branch of service. Whew…that really gets you right in the national pride.
And, just for fun…as we were having an ice cream cone in the vast and well-made welcome center….we all looked up and thought we saw an elephant’s head to the right of Abe.
Do you see it?
In the morning, we could see George W. when the sun hit his face. Our hotel in this funny little town of Keystone, SD is the KBarS and is terrific…434 Old Hill City Rd. 605-666-4545.
We had quite a drive the next day – Monday –
1) Crazy Horse monument, 2) Deadwood & Boot Hill, 3) Spearfish Canyon,
4) the Vore Buffalo Jump and a 150 mile final drive to Buffalo, Wyoming.
So, if you thought Rushmore was preposterous, just drive about 30 minutes to the Native American version…their hero, Crazy Horse….with his horse, of course. Bigger and bolder than the Borglum dream and planned to take 100 years. This head is 87 feet high vs. the Presidents’ 60 foot tall heads.
The family of the sculptor – Korczak Ziolkowski from Boston – is continuing his quest. Two of his grandsons are up on the mountain as we visit and most of his 10 kids are involved in what is a Native American University here as well as a Native American Museum. Quite a complex and all privately financed…no government money at all.
There’s a model of the finished project inside the museum along with many photos of the project begun in 1948. We didn’t have the nighttime laser show on our schedule and we were going to drive about 300 miles, so we don’t know that side of it (as we experienced the Rushmore night show), but it’s very impressive.
The quote is the reason for the project…and we will see one side of the story when we visit the Little Big Horn, where the Indians and their chief (above) totally defeated the US Army. The story of the government vs. the “red men” is written in many places here on our trip…a bloody story to say the least. Reservations and casinos (8 in Deadwood alone) are certainly not the entire recompense for these mysterious, spiritual and close-to-the-earth people. Spirits surround us.
That’s our guide and bus-driver, Jerry, on the bottom right. We meet some talented folks who have decided to do this work…a million stories in the naked city…and in the Plains, too.
More blog posts to follow….still have to cover some ground from Monday and gather some more photos from my traveling pals.