Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Mucking About in the Black Hills

We spent the day visiting several sites in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Our first stop was at Mount Rushmore. While we found the mountain itself unchanged from our last visit in 1993, the rest of the complex was brand new. Beautiful visitors' center and observation deck as well as several short trails that get you even closer to the mountain and in among the debris at the base. Nearly all of the new construction was due to donations by corporate and private individuals. ( I didn't take any pictures of that stuff which included a nice tribute to the men who actually worked on the mountain. Suffice to say it was pretty nice.)

Mt. Rushmore from the visitors' observation deck 1/4 mile away.

From along the Presidents' Trail at the base of the mountain.

From along the Presidents' Trail at the base of the mountain.

From among some of the larger pieces of debris.

From along the Presidents' Trail heading back toward the observation deck.

After viewing the four presidents, we drove over to see how work on Crazy Horse was progressing. Being as this monument is privately funded (through the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation) and essentially the work of one family (the Ziolkowski family), they are doing pretty well. When we first visited in 1993 there was just a coarse outline of his face and little of the extended arm and, certainly, no opening beneath the arm. Even the flank of the piece facing you in this photo was pretty much untouched.

Crazy Horse Monument as viewed from over 1 mile away at the visitors' center.
 The head of Crazy Horse is 87 feet high. In contrast those on Mount Rushmore are a mere 60 feet high.
The sculpture in the foreground is what the finished work will look like.
 The Crazy Horse Memorial has a marvelous museum of the construction of the mountain carving but also of Native Americans. The museum has easily trebled in size from when we first visited in 1993. Artifacts from tribes in the desert southwest to the Iroquois Nation are on display. The Crazy Horse Memorial will be the center point for a Native American College in the near future. It already has something of a prep school in operation.

Beaded vest.

Beaded dress.

Beaded purse.

We stopped and had lunch in the restaurant on the premises. Then spent another 45 minutes trying to figure out how the exit the vast museum.

Leaving Crazy Horse behind, we drove toward Hot Springs to visit the Mammoth Site. Our route took us through Custer State Park. At 71,000 acres it's one of the largest state parks in the nation. It is also home to 1500 bison. We didn't see that many since we stayed on the state highway that cuts through the park and didn't venture onto the Wildlife Loop, but we did see around ten of the big beasts lounging in the grass not far off the road.

Hot Springs is home to The Mammoth Site. The Site is a former sink hole that trapped at least 61 Columbian and wooly mammoths as well as camels, llamas short faced bears and other critters. The Site is an active dig where volunteers can help unearth the thousands of bones and where youngsters can learn how to be paleontologists and how to throw an atlatl.

Woolly Mammoth and Columbian Mammoth. (An African elephant could walk under the chin of the Columbian Mammoth.)

Nearly complete skeleton of a Columbian Mammoth.

Partial skull showing the tusks.

Nearly complete skeleton (left) and another skull (right) missing only the tip of the right tusk.
All in all a pretty enjoyable day!

1 comment:

Rev. Paul said...

What wonderful pics! Thank you for sharing those.