Monday, December 3, 2012

Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse for Levelers

Mount Rushmore.© by Judy Wells.
People from all over the world visit South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, monumental carvings honoring men who were important to our nation's residents. 
Chief Crazy Horse Memorial. © by Judy Wells.

Both are carved or being carved into mountains which often makes access difficult. Not in this case though.

En route to Mount Rushmore via Iron Mountain Highway. © Photo by Judy Wells.

Mount Rushmore
Tip: There are more direct routes but I highly recommend approaching Mount Rushmore via the 14-mile-long Iron Mountain Highway. The scenery is spectacular, especially that first glimpse of Rushmore when the light gray spot on the mountain becomes the distinctive faces of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Lincoln - just like in all the photographs you've ever seen.  The road isn't for the faint of heart, as it and even bridges coil steeply around - pig tail curves they call them - with one-lane-wide tunnels cut through the rock.  An unforgettable experience.

The U. S. Park Service does an excellent job of making the difficult accessible with ramps and elevators and we Levelers benefit.

Tip: There's an elevator in the multi-level parking garage.

Avenue of Flags. © by Judy Wells.
The entrance through the avenue of flags is impressive as are the exhibits and film on the lower level. Tip: Use the elevator.

You will have to do some walking to approach as close as you can to the carvings.

President's Trail has more steps than you want. © by Judy Wells.
Tip: The President's Trail will take you to a number of different angles for photographing but the difference isn't worth the more than 100 steps up and then down. I know because I walked it.

© by Judy Wells. © by Judy Wells.
Sculptor Gutzum Borland's studio is interesting but you'll have about 15 steps down then back up to get to and from it.

The bison burgers in the cafeteria are good as is the ice cream (Thomas Jefferson is credited with introducing it to America). The best part of Moose Drool brown ale is its name.

Chief Crazy Horse Monument. ©by Judy Wells.
 Crazy Horse
The insensitivity of carving enormous faces of presidents responsible for usurping their lands into a mountain sacred to the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota peoples was ignored by most Americans but not the native peoples. They responded by commissioning an even larger sculpture of their beloved Chief Crazy Horse.

So much larger that the four presidents' heads of Mount Rushmore easily fit atop the head of Crazy Horse.

Korcsak's drawing overlays the mountainside. © by Judy Wells.
It is a work in progress and, like most of the world's cathedrals, will continue over several generations. Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski knew this, providing detailed plans for his family. His widow Ruth and seven of their children carry on the work today.

Korczak's maquette with the unfinished Chief Crazy Horse in the background. © by Judy Wells.
All is funded by private donations but there is no overt begging at the facility below which includes the still developing Museum of the American Indian, an excellent film, Korczak's workshop and models and demonstrations by area Plains people.
Dance demonstration. © by Judy Wells.

Tip: There are very few steps here and a bus will take you as close as it is possible to get to the base. It is well worth the nominal charge.


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