Day 3-4 Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse   Leave a comment

Once we got to our campground near Mt. Rushmore, we rushed off to the Alpine Inn in the cute little town of Hill City, South Dakota for our welcome dinner. It was a fabulous filet mignon dinner.

We went to the Lincoln Borglum Museum where we learned a lot about the construction of Mt. Rushmore. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum created what we know as Mt. Rushmore. He was 58 years old when he began to design Mt. Rushmore in 1925. He chose four American Presidents carved into the granite of Mount Rushmore. George Washington signifies the struggle for independence and the birth of the Republic; Thomas Jefferson the territorial expansion of the country; Abraham Lincoln the permanent union of the States, and equality for all citizens; and Theodore Roosevelt, the 20th century role of the United States in world affairs and the rights of the common man.

In 1927, with the help of over 400 workers and several influential politicians, Borglum began carving a memorial to the history of America. The men who carved Mount Rushmore were mostly from the local area. Many were miners, lumber men, or ranchers. Although the construction stretched over 14 years (1927-1941), actual time spent working on the mountain is equal to six and a half years.

Borglum developed a “pointing” method to transfer the dimensions from the models to the mountaintop.

Carving the mountain involved the removal of excess rock by drilling and blasting. Over 450,000 tons of rock were removed from Mount Rushmore. Washington’s chin is 30 feet behind the original mountain surface, parts of Jefferson and Lincoln’s heads are 50 feet back and Roosevelt’s head took shape 75 feet behind the original surface. Jefferson was originally to the left of Washington, but due to an imperfect blast on his nose, Borglum was unhappy with it, had it completely blown up, and started Jefferson to the right of Washington. I can only imagine how the workers felt about that.

Each day workmen had to climb a tortuous stairway of over 700 stairs to reach the top. A heavy 1300 foot cable was installed to lift materials up in a mining bucket. Borglum eventually had the mining bucket replaced with a wooden cage to spare the crew their long climb up the mountain, but many of the men continued to use the stairway rather than take the dizzying and possibly dangerous tram ride.

In the final phase of work, scaffolds were removed. The men worked from various sizes of wooden cages suspended by one or two cables.

We found it very interesting how they created the “glazing” eye look.

We attended the Night Light show at Mt. Rushmore and were very moved by the entire ceremony. At the end, they asked all who have served in the military to come on stage and a few were able to help fold the lowered flag. We were very proud that we had quite a few of our guests on stage and one of our guests participated in the folding of the flag.

Crazy Horse is the World’s largest mountain carving. It is taller than the Washington Monument and the Presidents’ busts of Mt. Rushmore could easily fit in just a section of Crazy Horse’s hair.

Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began in 1948 with a dedication blast that took off just 10 tons. Millions of tons have been removed since AND I HAVE A PIECE OF THE ROCK. Workers are now blocking out the 22 story high horse’s head.

Korczak worked on Stone Mountain with Sculptor Gutzon. Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear invited Korczak to the Black Hills to carve Crazy Horse. When he arrived in the Black Hills in 1947 to accept this invitation, he was almost 40 years old and had only $174 left to his name. He felt very strongly that Crazy Horse should be built by the interested public and not the taxpayer, so he turned down two officers of federal funding. He also knew that the project was larger than any one person’s lifetime, and left detailed plans to be used with his scale models to continue he project. Since his death in 1982, his wife, Ruth-age 82-has directed the work, with the help of 7 of their 10 children.

Below is a picture of working on crazy horse and a blast on the face in 1993. We don’t think I’ll ever see it completed in our lifetime, but it sure would be a sight to see when it is completed.

The model on the left is 1/34th scale model on the right is 1/300th scale model

On sight there a wonderful museum displaying photos of almost all of the years of progress of the memorial. Korczak Ziolkowski’s studio is also on display with some of his works. I liked his sculpture of the “Brothers.”

The daily night laser light show is fantastic. I’m going to try to insert a small video.

Twice a year, they do a ceremonial blast. One is in June, the other in September. We were at a dinner and a show so we could not make the blast, but here is a picture of what it looks like.

It must be an amazing site to see.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: