Wednesday, September 4, 2013

South Dakota: Mt. Rushmore


Although it had been nearly 30 years ago, I had been to Mt. Rushmore and remembered that it had been kind of underwhelming. It is impressive that someone could see a pile of rocks and carve out the pictures of four presidents but compared to all the pictures I had seen previously, it seemed kind of small. But my wife, her mother and two aunts had never seen Mt. Rushmore before so we set our sights on it next.

Thirty years ago, I remember that Mt. Rushmore seemed a long way from civilization and one you got there, there wasn't more than a parking lot, a path up to a viewing platform with a small building behind that contained a museum of sorts explaining the history of the mountain. That Mt. Rushmore no longer exists. Now, there is practically a four lane freeway up to the foot of the mountain and the parking lot has been replaced by a multi-story parking garage. All along the road are billboards screaming out various ways to part you from your money. Once you make it to the top floor of the parking structure, instead of the path, there is now a series of stone gates that you walk through followed by a wide path lined with flags, food vendors, cafes, trinket shops, atm machines, etc. Although I looked and may have missed it among all the signs, I couldn't find the museum anymore. Where the old museum and viewing platform used to stand, there is a much larger viewing platform and stadium seating for a laser light show in the evenings after dark. It is all very commercialized which is unfortunate.

We took our obligatory pictures though I found my best picture above was taken from the first gate after the parking garage with a zoom lens. Although I wasn't real enthused about visiting Mt. Rushmore and fighting the crowds of people, I was out voted and went along. Afterwards, one of my aunt-in-laws from the Philippines was nearly in tears due to the extreme happiness of visiting a landmark that she thought she would never see in her lifetime. The impact a foreign national landmark made on her certainly made me see Mt. Rushmore in a different light, commercialization and crowds be damned.

7 comments:

roaring40 said...

I always think http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_by_Northwest when I read or see it (MR) on the telly. And in that film it was a destination for a fairly wealthy cohort that had free time in the late 50s and so was relatively empty.
I cannot say it would be on any itenery of mine if ever I end up in that neck of the woods. But I think I'd like to live there for a year and drive, boat, ride and hike MT, WY, ID, ND and SD along with Alberta and Saskatchewan. Funny though, but I've no interest in seeing the east of Washington.

Ed said...

Vince - Although I know it is supposed to be a classic, I have never seen that movie. The only movie I can think of that involved Mt. Rushmore is the Nicholas Cage "National Treasure" flick.

Although I have been east a few times, my love is mostly out west. But there are some really neat places to visit out east and my favorite is probably Washington DC. As a history buff, there is just too much history there to ignore.

Bone said...

This kinda reminds me of the first time I visited New York. I was wanting to go up the Empire State. A couple of the people I was with had been before and they were like "eh, whatever." But I went up it and it's still probably my second most memorable thing about that trip, next to visiting Ground Zero.

Of course, the Soup Nazi's store was closed the day we went by, so...

Ed said...

Bone - The only time I've been to New York with time to tour, I hadn't planned out in advance the location of the soup kitchen or the deli. If I had, I would have certainly taken my picture in front of them if they hadn't been open.

I only had time to hit up Times Square and buy a knock off purse for my wife.

warren said...

I have always heard people talk about experiences similar to your recent trip but I still want to see it. Like you say, it's iconic!

Ed said...

Warren - If anyone asks me, I tell them to go see it, just don't make it the destination but rather look at it as an interesting side trip.

Leigh said...

Dan and I watched a program on Mt. Rushmore once and it was really very interesting. The immense size of the project amazes me, and that they made the likenesses so well!