Old Presidents with Big Heads and a Crazy Horse




But first we had to get the Lead out. I mean get out of Lead.









Um…not only did they get the lead out, but the trees as well!








Moving on down the road…





..and we came across this lake.


Pactola Lake is the largest lake (reservoir) in the Black Hills and was created by the Pactola Dam. On the bottom of the lake is the  town of Pactola, an old mining camp submerged when the dam was built. Hopefully they gave the miners really long straws to breathe through.


Moved down the road some more…

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..and further yet….






..until we hit a fork in the road. After cleaning up the debris we took the next right into Keystone and Mt. Rushmore.








thru the tunnel we went and …







..around the corner..






..and into Keystone, population 337 give or take 5 or 6,000 during tourist season. Keystone was the home of Carrie Ingalls, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s sister..just another no- charge bit of trivia for you to enjoy. – Good night John Boy!


Our home away from home in Keystone:







Keystone’s reason for being and our reason for being in Keystone:






Mt. Rushmore was originally known to the Lakota as the Six Grandfathers, representative of the six sacred directions: west, east, north, south, above, and below.  Following a series of military campaigns from 1876 to 1878, the United States asserted control over the area, a claim that is still disputed on the basis of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie (giving the Black Hills to the tribes forever, remember?)  Among American settlers, the peak was known variously as Cougar Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Slaughterhouse Mountain, and Keystone Cliffs. It was named Mount Rushmore during a prospecting expedition (they discovered lead) by Charles Rushmore and David Swanzey, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s sister Carrie’s hubby. So why didn’t they name it Mt. Swanzey instead of after Rushmore, the prominent New York lawyer? Oh, I don’t know.  There wasn’t that fun?

On to Mt. Grandfathers..er..Mt. Swanzey…. Mt. Little House? ….OK Mt. Rushmore:


See it?


How ’bout now?


Getting closer.




We rushed to Mt.Rushmore not knowing for sure if it was open for business, being so early in the season..




…but it was, so we went back to Keystone  dumped our stuff at our EconoLodge suite, said Hey! to Carrie and came back.

(Ingalls!  Forgetful aren’t we?)




Taken directly from Wiki so be careful about the LEARNING thing –

“Historian Doane Robinson conceived the idea for Mount Rushmore in 1923 to promote tourism in South Dakota. In 1924, Robinson persuaded sculptor Gutzon Borglum to travel to the Black Hills region to ensure the carving could be accomplished.stone_mountain Borglum had been involved in sculpting the Confederate Memorial Carving, a massive bas-relief memorial to Confederate leaders on Stone Mountain in Georgia, but was in disagreement with the officials there. The original plan was to perform the carvings in granite pillars known as the Needles (more on the Needles later). However, Borglum realized that the eroded Needles were too thin to support sculpting. He chose Mount Rushmore, a grander location, partly because it faced southeast and enjoyed maximum exposure to the sun. Borglum said upon seeing Mount Rushmore, “America will march along that skyline.” Congress authorized the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission on March 3, 1925. President Coolidge insisted that, along with Washington, two Republicans and one Democrat be portrayed.

Between October 4, 1927, and October 31, 1941, Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers sculpted the colossal 60 foot high carvings of U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln to represent the first 130 years of American history. These presidents were selected by Borglum because of their role in preserving the Republic and expanding its territory. The image of Thomas Jefferson was originally intended to appear in the area at Washington’s right, but after the work there was begun, the rock was found to be unsuitable, so the work on the Jefferson figure was dynamited, and a new figure was sculpted to Washington’s left.

In a canyon behind the carved faces is a chamber, cut only 70 feet into the rock, containing a vault with sixteen porcelain enamel panels. The panels include the text of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, biographies of the four presidents and Borglum, and the history of the U.S. The chamber was created as the entrance-way to a planned “Hall of Records” which was never completed”  OK learning on pause – wasn’t that fun?



We met a very nice older gentleman Don ” NIck” Clifford (and his wife Carolyn) who had been one of the men who carved the mountain. Bought his book ” Mount Rushmore Q & A”  and, as it wasn’t real busy that day, told us about some of his experiences on the mountain.





View from the mountain:

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Heads with heads






The sun was beginning to set so I tried to get artistic.






It was the opening night of the “night” show. They had the veterans in the audience come down and introduce themselves. Because it was chilly I decided not to go down and have to climb back up the stairs.





The next morning we said adieu to George and Friends and stared out for Custer State Park…




 on the road again..






but first we go a little crazy…





Learning Alert!

In 1929, Henry Standing Bear, a Lakota elder, initiated the project to honor Crazy Horse by writing to sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, saying in part, “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too.”  Ziolkowski had worked on Mount Rushmore in 1924 under Gutzon Borglum.




After making models, Ziolkowski started blasting for the monument in 1948.







The memorial is a non-profit undertaking, and receives no federal or state funding.




IMG_7360aThe Memorial Foundation charges fees for its visitor centers and earns revenue from its gift shops. Ziolkowski reportedly was offered $10 million for the project from the federal government on two occasions, but he turned the offers down. He felt that the project was more than just a mountain carving, and he feared that his plans for the broader educational and cultural goals of the memorial would be overturned by federal involvement. Ya think?!!


Ziolkowski died in 1982. Sixteen years later in 1998, the face of Crazy Horse was completed and dedicated. Interesting stuff about Crazy Horse and the Monument: No one knows what Crazy Horse looked like (well, maybe his mother) as no pictures were ever taken of him, except for maybe the one at Custer Battlefield Museum in Garryowen, Montana.

Trivia Alert: Garryowen is located on the Little Big Horn battlefield and is a private town owned by Chris Kortlander with a Conoco gas station and convenience store, a Subway, an arts & crafts store called “The Trading Post,” and the Custer Battlefield Museum. This town is currently for sale, but an auction in August 2012 was cancelled after no one registered to bid. It has a population of two. You just can’t learn stuff like this anywhere else..

The Memorial itself is big – how big you ask? Well it is said you can take all four heads from the Mt. Rushmore and put them on Crazy Horse’s out stretched arm.

The Ziolkowski family have been working on this project from 1948 to present day (65 years). Ziolkowski’s wife Ruth and seven of their ten children work at and on the memorial. Because they don’t want the Feds messing with the Monument, money has always been an issue. One would think that all those Indian run casinos would chip in but that’s just me.






Crazy Horses (ya, I know)





Next up Rocks & Needles, Buffalo Chips, and a really big Drug Store.