Ever visited a ‘must-see-before-you-die,’ world famous site and found yourself slightly disappointed? Mount Rushmore National Memorial had this effect on me. Undoubtedly one of USA’s most well-known tourist sites, the enormous sculpture of four former United States Presidents’ heads can be found carved into Mount Rushmore near Keystone in South Dakota.
Don’t get me wrong – it was great to see it. For 20 seconds or so. But then, there’s only so much staring you can do (about five seconds per head is sufficient). And after a few minutes of entertainment taking photographs of my friends and I doing various ‘fun’ poses in front of it, I soon found myself more interested in the ice-cream and bookmarks on sale in the gift shop.
There’s an increasing emphasis on travellers aspiring to explore lesser-known sites. Hidden gems that aren’t talked about enough, but deserve to be. Perhaps that’s why such sites elicit surprise, because there’s been none of that over-hyping malarkey that goes on with the likes of Mount Rushmore and co.
I was delighted to find that only 20 minutes’ drive from Mount Rushmore, stands a wonderful example of a little-known site that deserves to be raved about – the Crazy Horse memorial in the Black Hills.
The world’s largest mountain carving honours the spirit of Crazy Horse (an Oglala Lakota warrior) and of Native Americans in general. I particularly enjoyed hearing the incredible story behind its on-going creation – a family’s dedication to creating an iconic masterpiece.
Image by jimbowen0306
Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and the Lakota elder Henry Standing Bear officially started the memorial in 1948, and it is still far from completion. Ziolkowski passed away in 1982 but his wife Ruth and seven of their ten children continue to work on the huge statue today, using careful craftsmanship and precision explosive engineering to remove and shape the rock.
Visitors to the site can view a model of what the enormous, striking sculpture will look like when it is finished, with the real mountain carving in the background so you can compare it before and after.
No one knows exactly when Crazy Horse will be completed, but I certainly hope I’m alive when it is finished so I can see it in all its glory.
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Category: Guest Post