The Road to Crazy Horse (and Friends)
I am not an Indian (Native American), and am not one of those apologists for America who has been labeled as being politically correct. Still, I admire much about the old Indian culture which is passing, or has passed away. Traveling through the Black Hills brings it all to life. Crazy Horse was one of the great war leaders, and by all accounts was a fierce fighter. What is ironic is that there is no clear description of what he looked like. The memorial being blasted from the mountain is thus a symbol in more than just the memorial sense. No photos or drawings exist, and there are few surviving personal accounts. It is unlikely that the monument really looks like him (I dare not even calculate the odds), but for future generations, this will be the face of Crazy Horse.
    Crazy Horse was a Sioux, and did not even live in this region. Of course, neither did Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, or Roosevelt. So I suppose geography has little to do with the suitability of a monument to the spirit and achievement of an individual. Though I can not regret the passing of the Indian nations (it was only with their passing that the United States was able to grow to the extent that it did), I can not help thinking that I have more in common with their ideas of personal freedom, responsibility, and virtue, than I do with those of many of my fellow jaded, selfish, and shallow Americans. The Indians, along with the European Americans, lived in a different world, one which may be glimpsed as a fleeting shadow in places like the Black Hills. These people were a far cry from what we have all degenerated into today. The Indians, and the Europeans who defeated them, would feel a kinship which they could never feel for those descended from them. Even the Indians themselves, would likely feel little pride or warmth towards what their people have become. We have thrown it all away, but some inspiration for it's regeneration exists in places like this. It may be this which draws us to such places. If they all could have been made alive today, I suspect that the Indians, and Europeans of 150 years ago would have forgotten their differences, and banded together to throw us out.
On Highway 16, heading south towards the Crazy Horse monument. Highways 89 and 87 are far more scenic, but the car had begun to act up, on large grades, and we were also strapped for time. The Needles Highway, with it's tunnels, grades, and wonderful scenery will have to wait for a future trip. 
The road to Crazy Horse. This is still a relatively flat and open area for the Black Hills. We are pretty near the north eastern edge of the area.
What in earth is a this place doing up here in the mountains? This kind of thing is what I love about the west. You never know what will appear or where. 
Trash or treasure? Only you can decide. I must confess that we spent a couple of hours wandering through this place. I did buy some things. I can't remember what though. 
More random collections of stuff. It is in no logical order that I could discern. Still, we came to explore and discover. 
So, how's the diet going guys? One of the many symbols of the old west is a cattle skull. Under the influence of tourist fever, I was almost tempted to buy one. This is one of those purchases, however, which is doomed to spend the rest of it's existence in a box up in the attic. I declined the purchase. 
Well, this looks interesting. is this mountain going bald? We have found Crazy Horse. A close look at this photo will reveal the outlines of a face.
A nice overview of the monument in process. The face is finished, as is the outline of the top of the arm. Markings can be seen on the mountain side outlining the form of the horse's head. 
Entrance to our newest monument, in progress. While Crazy Horse can certainly be seen, without paying a fee to enter the gates, there are a number of attractions and facilities within. They are worth checking out. There are also bus rides which will take one right onto the monument itself. 
Wow! What kind of an effort must it have taken to blow the surface away from half of a mountain? Even so, the effort is only a small portion of what will be required to complete the monument as designed. 
A scale model of what the sculpture will look like when it is finished. Work is progressing, but it will still be decades before it is finished. 
A bunch of tourists pose at it's base. 
The crown of his head. It almost does look as if Crazy Horse is wearing a crown. The structure in question is a work and safety platform. A guard rail can also be seen running up the length of his "arm". The mountain is being carved using det cord, a military explosive. The project is the work of Boston-born Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski. If it seems a bit coincidental that Crazy horse is in such close proximity to Mount Rushmore, coincidence plays no part. Korczak Ziolkowski worked on Rusmore as an assistant, for a very short period of time. Though reputed to have been on good terms with Gutzum Borglum, a disagreement (many say it was a brawl) with Lincoln Borglum ended the working relationship. 
      Though such a work was discussed, with Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear, as early as 1939, efforts on Crazy Horse did not begin in earnest, until 1948, and will likely go on for many more decades. This is a considerably more ambitious effort than the one made ot Mount Rushmore. It is by no means certain that Crazy Horse will ever be completed. Korczak Ziolkowski died in October of 1982, so like Gutzum Borglum, he will never see completion of the work he began. The project is being continued by family members and by the Crazy Horse Foundation. Something on the order of ten million tons of rock has been blasted from the mountain so far. 
A look at part of the span of the arm, with the face looking out along it's length. 
A typical photo composition here, but how could I resist? The scaled version overlaid upon the full sized work in progress. As can be seen by a comparison of the two, there is an incredible amount of work yet to be done.
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