Friday, December 5, 2014

Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Needles

We made an excursion to see three sites on May 12, 2004 to see Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and The Needles. Remember our home base at this time was The Three Flags RV Park in Black Hawk, South Dakota. We had great weather and beautiful sunshine to guide our way.

Mount Rushmore was sculpted by Gutzon Borglum and his son Lincoln between 1934 and 1939. The purpose of the sculpture was to encourage tourism in the area. The funding was primarily from the United States Government. The original idea was to put sculptures of adventurers and public figures well known in the Black Hills, like Lewis and Clark, Buffalo Bill and Red Cloud. Borglum decided it needed to be more nationally inspiring and came up with the idea of the presidents. Although the sculptures are sixty feet tall they looked smaller from the vantage point of the viewing area provided. Most people do not know that the sculptures were intended to show the presidents from the waist up, but we ended up with heads only, due to lack of funding.

Park Rangers at Rushmore have a night show with lots of colored lights and an oral presentation that I hear is a marvel to see, but Kathi and I do not get out much at night anymore. Kathi is willing to make an exception for a casino, but we found none in the area. The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is located near Keystone, South Dakota and is a visit I would recommend to anyone.

The Crazy Horse Memorial is on private land and funded by donations -- they do not want any government interference. The sculpture depicts Crazy Horse sitting on his horse with his left arm pointing forward.

Arlon competing with the presidents for face time

Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse model and uncompleted sculpture in the background

A view along the needles highway

The entrance to Mount Rushmore

The pavillion at Mount Rushmore

A tunnel through the mountains on the Needles Highway
Korczak Ziolkowski started the sculpture in 1948. The U.S. Government offered him $10,000,000 to let them take over the project, but Ziolkowski refused the money. He died in 1982. His wife and seven of their ten children run the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation and are completing the sculpture. Personally I do not think it will ever be complete because the foundation is making too much money. The property includes the Indian Museum of North America and a Native American Cultural Center. We spent a long time at Crazy Horse awaiting an explosion to blow away some rock in the afternoon. There was a huge crowd at the cultural center looking out the window watching for the explosion. After a three hour wait we saw a small puff of smoke and heard no noise. When I think of explosion, I think BOOM, but sculptors think controlled. I guess I will go elsewhere to see a big explosion -- surely there is a mine around somewhere. We did enjoy the museum and cultural center. I found Crazy Horse more fun than Rushmore. Kathi disagrees -- she was more impressed by Mount Rushmore.

The Needles of the Black Hills is a group of eroded granite spires and towers and is accessible from the Needles Highway which is part of Sylvan Lake Road. The Needles was proposed as the original site for the sculptures that ended up on Mount Rushmore. The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, thought that the granite was too thin and of poor quality in The Needles. We saw some wonderful sights traveling on the Needles highway, including tunnels carved through the rock and some views of Mount Rushmore through the tunnels. Driving through the mounts in crisp spring air with a view of so many pine trees is impressive -- at least it was special to us and a drive we will never forget.

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