Day 15 - Wall, SD to Custer, SD - 180 Miles
First Stop was Mount Rushmore. I've been here several times...once on a bicycle after a very difficult climb up the mountain for me, but I made it. The other times have been in a car. Each time I come here is always a revelation. I see something different than the time before.
Gutzon Borglum was the sculptor of the faces on Mount Rushmore. He had previously sculpted Stone Mountain in Georgia. It began with the dedication in 1927 and continued for 14 years. Borglum died in 1941 and his son, a sculptor in his own right, supervised the completion of the heads. Work stopped in October, 1941, on the eve of the US entry into World War II. The final dedication was not held until 1991.
Washington was chosen as our first President, Jefferson was author of our Declaration of Independence, Lincoln restored the Union and ended slavery on US soil, and Theodore Roosevelt ignited progressive causes like conservation and economic reform.
An apprentice/assistant of Borglum on Mt. Rushmore was Korczak Ziolkowski, a Bostonian who became a sculptor. He had won recognition for a winning sculpture at the World’s Fair in 1939. Shortly thereafter, Chief Henry Standing Bear of the Lakota Tribe wrote Ziolkowski, stating “my fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, also” and began dialogue about another stone carving; this one of Chief Crazy Horse.
And so, in 1948 Ziolkowski began carving Chief Crazy Horse into a nearby mountain. The face has just been completed and the work has continued to the present. Pictures below show the progress of the carving and a 1/34 scale model of the project, once it is completed. The Crazy Horse monument is funded entirely by entrance fees and donations, receiving no government support. Ziolkowski died in 1982 and his sons and hired staff continue the blasting and carving; other descendants of Ziolkowski run the gift shop and the Foundation. On the land around the monument,
Next it was onto Jewel Cave National Monument. I have been here before and took the tour, so there was no need to do that today. Besides, the place was packed it being a holiday weekend and all. I did get my stamp though...
Along the way into the Black Hills you could not help but notice all of the downed trees. It turns out these are the result of Mountain Pine Beetle infestation. Some fell on their own, others were cut to stop the spread of the disease. Devastating.
Then it was over to Wind Cave National Park. On the drive over, the skies opened up and it was another torrential downpour. Didn't stay long, as once again the place was packed and the wait for the tour was over 2 hours.
Ended the day at Beaver Lake Campground, Custer, SD., just down the road from the cave.