Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Lincoln
Arrived in Custer, S.D. to a lovely campground called Custer Gulch RV Resort. We were surprised to find that the sites looked to have almost a quarter acre and lots of nice space for picnics, lawn chairs, and extras like boats, bikes, 4 wheelers.
The next day we decided to see Mt. Rushmore Nat’l Park and Crazy Horse Monument. It had been years since Bill had seen Mt. Rushmore and when he saw it memories flooded back from his first visit. It still looks great and is still impressive! When the sculptor Gutzon Borglum looked at the knobby, cracked face of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of south Dakota, he saw a vision of four U.S. presidents carved into the mountain. In 1927, with the help of over 400 workers and several influential politicians Borglum began carving the memorial to recognize the history of America. Today Mount Rushmore is host to around 3 million visitors each year from across the country and around the world. As we walked around there is no doubt that the number of visitors could be even higher. Boy, was it crowded. Today, there are shops along with a movie and a huge museum with
This is one of the original possible designs that may have been used.
many artifacts. Started in 1927 and finished in 1941 it is a tribute to the American spirit. Believe it or not not, no one, I repeat, no one, lost their lives during the 14 years of construction. However, several lost their lives later to silicosis, a disease of the lungs caused from the inhalation of dust. Originally the 4 presidents were to be cast from the waist up but due to a lack of funding they were completed at bust size. I thought it was interesting that the sculptor also changed the design several times when they encountered complications with rock composition. We also found it interesting to learn that Jefferson was originally to be to Washington’s left (as we look at it) but when blasting the rock they found it was not stable enough and they had to change his position. Mountain climbers annually monitor Rushmore and seal the cracks that are found. They now use a silicone tube of caulk for repairs as the older materials seem to be breaking down (and we have better products to use now.) The total cost of the project cost the U.S. $989,992.32. The monument has been cleaned only one time and
that was when a German cleaning company offered to do it free using pressurized water at over 200 degrees F.
After walking the Presidential trail and around the park, we decided to go on to see Crazy Horse Monument. This one is not a national park and is being worked on by monies raised through donations and charges to get into the park ($10 per person). If one didn’t want to go in you could (with a good camera and small zoom) stay on the outside by the road and see the progress rather well. The park has a huge building with artifacts, movie, gift shops, educational areas, and Indian demonstrations. For an extra $4.00 ea. you can take a ride to the base of the mountain to view Crazy Horse up close. While a monstrous amount of rock has been removed Bill was surprised by how slow progress had been made over the last (are you ready for this) 54 years. Remember, it took 14 years for Rushmore. The sculpture, Korczak Ziolkowski was self taught and interestingly enough had been working on Rushmore. Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear had approached him about working on the project and he
accepted. Standing Bear had told him that he would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes also. Work was started in 1948 and today is far from being done. I suspect that I won’t live long enough to see it finished. When Korczak died his wife took over the business end of the construction and now their children are working on the project, along with a number of others. Korczak felt that Crazy Horse should be built by the interested public and not the taxpayer. Twice he turned down offers of federal funding. He knew he would never see it to completion and left detailed drawings/etc for those who would continue the work. Since the work is far larger in scope than Rushmore some of the tribes feel it is a “We can do better than you!” and are not behind the construction. Let’s hope it reaches completion and will, in the end, be another of America’s treasures.
Today Judy connected with past friends who live in Rapid City. They drove down to visit and go to lunch. After a nice visit we parted and returned to the RV to gather camera/etc and head
off to the Four Mile Ghost Town. Actually, it is a rebuilt town that is set on the spot where the original town sat. Using old information, things were built as close to the original as possible. We were surprised at how long we were there, but with about 50 buildings I guess it would take some time. They had a ton of old items that had been collected over the years - some obviously more modern than the town itself. The natural spring that the pony express used is still working and running today. Back when the pony express was working (for about a year) stops were set up at different points, about every 4 miles, so this is how this town got its name. When the telegraph came along news was almost instantly relayed. An example of this --news of gold being found and the immediate run to the gold area by many. When the gold rush happened the town population dropped and eventually it became a ghost town like many others. It was interesting to see, and larger than we expected. The lady who ran the place was very knowledgeable and we enjoyed her introduction and the
self guided tape she provided.
On our last day in the area we decided to simply take a ride thru Custer State Park and on to Keystone. The road along Iron Mountain Rd was twisting and narrow and one that you sure wouldn't want to have an RV traveling. The scenery was lovely even if the roads were not, and we arrived in Keystone to find it to be a very commercial area. We didn't stay very long as it is not our forte. On the way back we saw Mt. Rushmore on several occasions and at one point got a very close side view of Washington's profile. Back at the RV we decided to hike the area around here at the campgrouand actually is a part of Custer State Park.
Leaving for Sturgis tomorrow. Eat your heart out Russell (Bill's nephew who is a Harley motorcycle nut.)
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