Friday, September 6, 2013

South Dakota: Crazy Horse (The Memorial)

On my trip through the Black Hills 30 years ago, there wasn't a lot to see at Crazy Horse Memorial because they were just starting to carve it into rock. I suppose that explains why my parents didn't take me to see it. Now 30 years later on my first visit to the memorial, I must say I was very impressed and would recommend stopping there over stopping at nearby Mt. Rushmore.

When we pulled up to the entrance, the fee was nearly twice that of what it cost to get into Mt. Rushmore but it didn't take me long to realize that what Mt. Rushmore lacked, this place had it in spades. This memorial is definitely on a different and much bigger scale than Mt. Rushmore and the main viewing area is situated further away giving you a more straight on perspective. Although they don't give public tours, the do give private tours where you can drive right up and through the tunnel seen below what will become Crazy Horse's pointing arm. You can also hang out right on top of Crazy Horse's head. How cool would that be?

At the complex, they too had a gift shop and a cafe but both were not nearly so in your face as they were at Mt. Rushmore. Also, where I couldn't find the museum at Mt. Rushmore, the entire complex was dedicated to the history of the making of this monument. There were rooms filled with artifacts and displays showing the history of the monument and its future. I also liked the fact that most of the money they parted from my wallet went towards the carving of the monument and not back to the government like at Rushmore. I also liked the fact that though crowded, it was much less so than Mt. Rushmore.

My favorite part of the whole site was the living quarters of the artist who began carving the monument. Not only did he spend his days carving rock, but he spent his evenings doing so as well as in other mediums. The man was an artist in his own right judging from the displays that I will show in the next post. I spent more time walking through his workshops and home than I did actually looking at the mountain across the valley. I also thought it was neat that when the artist died, he was buried in a tomb that he had already dug at the base of the Crazy Horse monument and his still living wife still living in parts of his home not open for tour, will join him when she dies.

In the top picture, you can see a white line that at first looks like graffiti but is actually layout lines for the horses head that they will be working on. Looking at the timeline of pictures on display, most of the progress seems to have been made in the last 20 years. If I am ever back to this area 20 years from now, I will most certainly stop by to see how much more work has been done.


Anonymous said...

I've always felt the carvings on Mount Rushmore to be a bit off somehow. Had they been done in Vermont the aspect of white English guys and a Dutchman wouldn't strike that somewhat off note.
But Crazy Horse while purposely sculpted to counter the other is to my mind far more sited in it's own place.
On the progress. I expect the opening of the Indian Casinos has given a boost to the coffers. But coupled with that. The reduction of direct provision to the Reservations has allowed a return of soul to those peoples and Crazy Horse being such an icon of resistance any sculpture would be supported.

sage said...

It's been 25 years since I was there--i would like to go back and am glad some attempt to pay homage to the people who considered the Black Hills sacred.