Saturday, September 15, 2012

Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial

Of all the places I went, the biggest disappointments were Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial.  I remembered little of my previous visit to Mount Rushmore except that my father was interviewed by a radio station.  They asked what he thought of it and he said it was too commercialized.

Although managed by the National Park Service, your park pass doesn't get you into the park.  Instead, admission is free, but you get to pay for parking because the parking structure is administered by some other organization.

When you first enter, there is a small NPS office on the right and bathrooms on the left.  A little further on and you pass the huge gift shop on your left and restaurants on the right.  In addition, there are tables set up with vendors selling crap. 

One of the first places I could stop and get a picture of Mount Rushmore.

I remembered this view from when my family was there in 1979.  I always thought it was great.

Entering the park after parking.  Despite my dislike of the commercialization of the area, it really is beautiful here.

A closeup of Lincoln.  Notice the detail in the eyes.

There is a trail you can take that gives different vantage points of the sculpture.  This is from one of them.

The sculptor's studio.  This is what the finished project was to have looked like.

Another view of Mount Rushmore.

I almost didn't go to the Crazy Horse Memorial.  I'm glad I did, but I don't think I'd go back.  While I was there all I could think of was that Native Americans are once again being exploited.  The sculpture was commissioned by the native tribes and work began in 1948.  Work is progressing slowly. 

For an indication of size, the head of Crazy Horse is 87 feet high.  The head of the the presidents at Mount Rushmore are 60 feet.  If this is ever finished, 641 feet wide and 563 feet high.  So there is a lot of work to be done.

But still, as I wandered through the extensive visitor center, which is run by the family of the original sculptor, all I could think of was they were continuing to exploit the Indians.  Yes, it is essentially an Indian cultural center, and is technically run by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, it is the family that continues to benefit. 

To me it seemed as much, or more so about the family, as Crazy Horse.  Yes, they were instrumental in starting the sculpture, but it seems to me that they have too much riding on taking their time rather than a completed project.  It just left a bad taste in my mouth.

I spent a couple of hours there, including eating at the restaurant (don't, by the way) and was glad when I drove out of the parking lot and onto the main road.


  1. Did you make it to the Frank Lloyd Wright house in the area too?