Mount Rushmore was the next stop in South Dakota. The famous four faces carved in the side of the mountain. I will never, for the life of me, know why someone looked at a mountainside and thought ‘Yep, I’m going to put some giant heads up there.’ But I guess that’s why I’m not a sculptor, I don’t have the eye for that sort of thing. Mount Rushmore itself was very cool to see up close and personal, even though I had seen pictures of it in so many guide books and history books. I also really enjoyed the avenue of flags, where they had the flags of all the states in the union on display, with all of the dates they were admitted carved into the pillars they were displayed on. We hiked the Presidential Trail, where we got right up close and personal (or as up close and personal as we could get) with the presidents. You could see up George’s nose.
After leaving Mount Rushmore, we meandered over to Crazy Horse Memorial, which is another mountain being carved into a mountain. This mountain was chosen by Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski & Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear to create a memorial to protect and preserve the culture and traditions of North American Indians. The sculptor started in 1948 and it is far from being completed. Eventually the mountain will be Crazy Horse pointing over his horse’s head indicating ‘My lands are where my dead lie buried’. You can find a bit more about Crazy Horse here (extremely brief biography).
Korczak Ziolkowski didn’t just envision the completion of a mountain sculpture. He envisioned having the Indian Museum of North America and the Indian University of North America (outlined here). I think this gives Crazy Horse Memorial just a little more depth than Mount Rushmore. They also had a lot of hand crafted artifacts on display in the museum, which were so intricate and beautiful.