A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore

Simply put, we were overwhelmed.
So much has changed since we were last here some 35 years ago, that is except for the monument itself. Pretty much the face alone is the most noticeable difference. We thought more would be done and now we know we'll not see the completed work in our lifetime. There is now a two theater orientation center with a conference hall and education center, Indian Museum with three wings, gift shops too numerous to mention (I lost count of the rooms and got lost also), restaurant and snack shop, the sculptor's log home, workshop and studio, Indian cultural center and so much more. When we were here last, there was just a one room visitor center that was probably the size of the present day snack shop alone. My head was spinning when we left on the four lane entry/exit road which was just a gravel road before.
But if Crazy Horse blew us away, words cannot describe the impact Mt Rushmore had on us. It too has equally changed so drastically since our last visit. We didn't recognize one aspect of it from before (neither would have Cary Grant - Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest) except for the monument itself. In fact, we had a hard time finding our way around just to locate where we once viewed the rock sculptures 30 some years ago, even if it still existed. Finally I noticed a small sign "Historical viewing area" and followed the staircase down through the pines to the now vacant platform.

The trees have now grown to obscure the view. Everywhere you walked was on this smooth polished granite. It was not like that back when.
All the buildings, gift shops, museum, visitor center, restaurant, everything has been rebuilt with this granite which is not even native to the area. It all came from Minnesota. It was beautiful, impressive and seemed so out of place in the natural setting of the mountain forest landscape.
There is even now a huge amphitheater below the "Grand Viewing Terrace" where they have summer evening light shows on the mountain carving. Take note of the speakers and array of lights beneath them. Try to imagine how many people this place seats. There were more rows of seating on levels behind me. I am sure it is impressive and a sight to behold but as my wife said to me "It's like when they took King Kong out from his natural environment and placed him on display in New York with all the lights and ceremony."
I could have put it any better.

As we were leaving my wife said to me "Did you see that young man who just passed us? He had the biggest smile on his face. He was really enjoying seeing this. It's probably his first time." And for that, all of the changes were just fine with us.

It was a really gusty and windy day all day long since we left camp at Devils Tower Wyoming. At Crazy Horse we were bitterly cold. By the time we arrived at Mt. Rushmore I think we were just wind-blown tired. Both places you definitly should go see, if you are ever in the Black Hills of south Dakota.


  1. Like you I was there more than 30 years ago. And like you I barely recognize the place. Do the buffalo still roam near the entrance to Mt. Rushmore?

  2. i know 'progress' has its place, but sometimes you just want things to stay natural and unspoiled - and a bit unpaved or unpolished. oh well...

  3. I can't remember any of that when I was there in 1984, so this is a big shock to me, too. The lower platform at Mt Rushmore is what I remember... I kept seeing pics on other blogs where it looked like the photog was taking the pic from higher than what I remember being when I'd been there... now, I know why! I don't remember the granite, either... I'm wondering when all these changes came about.

    I bet kids would be amazed, but I kinda agree w/ you... it's all out of place... maybe they should have redesigned in wood, though saved wood from other projects? Not sure how that would work. Or maybe rock from the Crazy Horse monument? Just thinking out loud here...

  4. I 2nd TexWisGirl's comment... that's a good idea!!! =)

  5. I have never been there, I've seen many photos of this place but also never saw what it looked like from behind! Truely an amazing place judging from youy sharp clear pictures...

  6. oh, maybe some politician came along and decided it would be a great legacy to get the funding to "improve" the site. I guess increased numbers of tourists may put stress on the area too, and perhaps some of the "progress" was to alleviate crowded viewing and just make things more spacious for all. whatever the case may be, I'm happy that it's preserved for years to come. too bad the materials were imported from out of state though. but hey, at least they weren't imported from China. now THAT'S progress.
    the artist's work is a beauty to behold, in a beautiful setting. thanks for the great photos. and try to stay out of that wind. you know, the last time I was through there the wind was an issue too. some things don't change. be safe.

  7. You go on the best trips! Neat place and of course photos.

  8. These would be great to see but I really want to see the Crazy Horse monument. Cool Buffalo too.

  9. I would like to follow in your footsteps. I was there when I was about nine and again when I was 19. I even have pictures!


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