Mt. Rushmore & The Black Hills

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Though I got a late start, I managed to cover some territory today, my prime pursuit being to visit Mt. Rushmore. I was not disappointed. From Keystone, SD where I had spent overnight, it is about a 15 minutes drive. First sightings were impressive, but even more so the closer you get. The Park service has done a good job of managing the crowds, with parking garages close by and crowd traffic went smoothly throughout the park. There were a ton of visitors. 

A pavilion channels tourists along a colonade of pillars where all the state and territory flags are flying while inscribed on the pillars are the chronological statehood dates for all the 50 states. An introductory film helps explain how the Mt. Rushmore project began and footage of the actual construction / sculpting over the years. I have seen this park on TV shows and in books, but seeing them in person leaves a person in awe, from the concept introduced in 1923 to the actual beginning and years of work to create this monument. Taking the Presidential Trail, visitors can pass underneath the faces and then see even more detail than from afar. I am so glad to have been able to come here and finally witness this work of art in person.


Next on today’s agenda was to see another equally impressive, if not more so, mountain sculpture about a half hour drive south. That would be the Crazy Horse monument, currently still under construction. 

It has taken 68 years to accomplish this much on this monumental project. It will take many more years til completion. 

The Lakota Tribe’s elder commissioned the sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to create this monument not only to honor the Indian chief, but as a tribute to all the North American Indian Tribes. It is privately funded and receives no government subsidy. This too is a very impressive project and will be outstanding when complete. It is, however, without controversy. Many Lakota tribesmen consider this to be a desecration of their Black Hills holy ground.

Both monuments are within the Black Hills, which are mountains, not hills.

After Crazy Horse, I took the longer loop road to Keystone and then on to Deadwood / Lead, SD. One part of the mountain drive had 321 curves and 3 single lane tunnels. To drive those tight curves, inclines and down grades required my full attention.

Today ended with an overnight in Lead, SD the adjacent town to Deadwood. Since I am running low on time, I will curtail any sightseeing here, but will now start to wrap up my trip with the visit to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. 

I hope I don’t experience any "close encounters of the 3rd kind"...

u © Donald E. Kline 2012