Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mt. Rushmore National Memorial,
Pennington County, South Dakota

43.88614 North Latitude
103.45010 West Longitude

Sunday, August 30 – I woke up well before dawn and headed down to South Dakota to visit two places that I have longed to see – Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Mountain. I have been fascinated with these extremely large granite carvings ever since I was a child – their history, the magnitude of the stonework, and the complexity of the engineering. I had some time ago dabbled in the production of granite countertops when the archaeological consulting business was at a low. I know full well how difficult it is to work with this material. My trip started as per usual by taking roads that I had not yet traveled on – easy enough to do in these two large states. My trip began by driving down North Dakota State Highway 8 to the South Dakota border. I then hopped on South Dakota State Highway 75 below Hettinger, ND and crossed over to Highway 79 down to Sturgis. From the Mecca of Harley Davidsons I took scenic Highway 14A into Deadwood and then 385 through the Black Hills (National Forest) into Keystone and a short distance later to Mt. Rushmore. This drive was beautiful beyond description and my neck hurt from the constant twisting and turning.
The profile of Mt. Rushmore came up quickly as I headed into the park – lots of room for cars and motorcycles and motor homes to pull off and stare in awe – and that’s just what I did! Couldn’t wait to get into the memorial and get up close. The monument nicely accommodates touristas and it is IMPRESSIVE! The scenery of the Black Hills is a sight to behold. There were hundreds of visitors from all over the country and abroad, but the viewing areas and trails below the sculptures were so large that you never got the feeling of being crowded or caught up in a fast moving line. The figures were nothing short of completely and utterly amazing – a masterpiece! Kudos to Mr. Gutzon Borglum and his hundreds of colleagues for their many decades of work and to our government for doing such a great job with this park. I left feeling very much inspired with patriotism and nationalism.


Crazy Horse Mountain,
Custer County, South Dakota 

43.83772 North Latitude
103.62269 West Longitude

Feeling some time and mileage constraints I headed west across the incredibly beautiful Highway 244, and then south on U.S. Highway 385/16 to the Crazy Horse Monument – a project in the Black Hills started in 1948 by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, and still under construction by members of his family and a tremendously dedicated non-profit group. This monument is dedicated to the Oglala Lakota leader, Crazy Horse. The carving depicts the famed warrior on a horse and majestically juts out (facing south) from a large granite outcropping on what Tribal groups refer to as Thunderhead Mountain. This work of art is located 10 or so kilometers southwest of Mt. Rushmore, a short distance north of the lovely old town of Custer (named for one of the main Black Hills Expedition camps of Brevet Major General George Armstrong Custer). Crazy Horse Monument rivals the more famous National Memorial both in scope and grandeur. Seeing it fulfilled a life-long ambition! The associated Indian Museum of North America / Native American Cultural Center is terrific, and the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation has ambitious plans for a Native American university and medical center!

Highways 16A and 36 took me through the incredibly beautiful landscape of Custer State Park. From there I headed north into Rapid City and Sturgis and then back into North Dakota on a set of as yet still untraveled highways (212/73).

I have been living in this part of the High Plains for over three months and still cannot get enough of the prairie landscape! This was a very long, but rewarding day of traveling for the old Chinese-Buffalo. For additional photos see my Flickr blog:

Ciao, Chinese-Buffalo (at large)

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