The Faces of Rushmore
Mount Rushmore is a must see monument; it’s a big piece of American history so even if you’re not a native it’s still a great place to visit and you can learn a lot in just one trip. As stated on the memorial’s website; “The figures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, surrounded by the Black Hills of South Dakota tell the story of birth, growth, development and preservation of the country”.
This was one of the places I had high expectations of; it’s a location in many stories, movies and features on a lot of American produce as well as being highly spoken about. Although overall it exceeded my expectations and had a lot more to it than what I thought, it was a lot smaller than I had imagined it to be. Don’t get me wrong, it was very impressive, just in my mind I always thought it would be a lot bigger.
There are many trails and viewpoints around the park so you can see it from all kinds of angles. You also learn as you go as each station holds stories and facts which encourages you to work your way around the mountain. The further you go the more you learn. It’s an ideal place for students and history trips! For example, did you know that these four were chosen to be carved into the mountain because, from Guzton Borglum’s perspective (the creator), they represented the most important events in the USA’s history?
There’s also the physics of it and a building where you can see how they created this piece of artwork and made it what it is today. It was also fascinating learning about about how exactly this memorial was formed by over 400 workers from 1927 to 1941. I’m not going to give away any spoilers, you’ll have to go if you want to find out the secrets behind the spectacle (all I will say is that dynamite was involved…). You can also learn about how the grounds around the memorial have evolved and the timeline of which it was created. There’s a lot more to it than what you might think!
Every ranger at the site makes you feel so welcome and engages with you whether you’re American natives or not; they want to include you and teach you their nation’s history. The museum and interactive exhibits around the 60ft granite faces can keep you intrigued for hours.
Not too far from Mount Rushmore is the Crazy Horse Memorial. I know, I hadn’t heard of it either but just like Rushmore, It’s pretty impressive and worth a visit if you’re in the area. At the moment, because the monument is not yet complete, and currently being 10 times smaller, it is small enough to look like it’s just a piece fallen off of Rushmore. However, once it’s completed, it’s set to be one of the tallest monuments in the world.
It is being built based on a warrior who, in his tribes eyes, was a hero. Tasunke Witco, born as a rapid member of the Oglala Lakota on Rapid Creek, and is now known as Crazy Horse Mountain as this was his nickname. It was during a time when cultures clashed, land was an issue and native ways were threatened. Without giving away too many details of the story, his followers felt he was worthy of being remembered. As he is known to have refused to ever have his picture taken, the sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski is basing the carving on descriptions provided to honour the principles and values for which native Americans stood by. Just like Rushmore, there is a lot more to this memorial than just the rock carving; there is the whole history and story behind it which you can learn about in the exhibits on site. It’s crazy!
We seemed to roll into the state at the right time as it just so happened to be bike week. My style of clothing seemed to fit in well. We must have been staying at the biggest and most modern campsite I’ve ever seen with a kids mini theme park, mini golf, water slides, pool and even a pancake buffet breakfast tent! Just behind one of the restaurants (there were also several of these in the camp along with a few shops), there was a bar where we went for a few drinks and to shelter from the huge storm that was about to hit, and here the most amusing thing happened… a man, who had just come in with part of a huge, what I like to call “heard of bikers”, came up to the bar and asked me which bike was mine… I wasn’t sure whether to be offended or not but I just laughed and said “I’m no biker but if I had to pick one I’d go for something like that” and pointed to the nicest looking Harley Davidson I could see. It did make me chuckle.
All in all, Mount Rushmore is something you have to see with your own eyes. It’s so much more than just 4 faces carved on a mountain.