Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Crazy Horse Monument

The Crazy Horse Monument
The scale model of the monument- 1/300th the size
The seventh and eighth generation grandsons of Crazy Horse
Artifacts from the Crazy
 This will be the last post about the trip we took. As I mentioned previously, it means more to us than to anyone else reading this. I did want to share one of the more memorable parts of the trip though. While we were still on the Lincoln Highway in Wyoming we stopped at one of the rest areas and spoke to a rather interesting fellow. He was sporting a long white beard and carried a Diamond Willow walking stick. Unlike the generic travelers that you see most everywhere, you could tell he was a character and he had an air of knowledge about him. I was drawn to his t-shirt. It showed Mt. Rushmore, which was on our list of places we wanted to visit on this excursion down south. Unfortunately, the buffoons running the government couldn't get their act together and the government was shut down, which of course meant that the national parks were all closed. I mentioned to the fellow that at least he got to see Rushmore and he said that it wasn't nearly as impressive as the Crazy Horse Memorial, right outside of Custer South Dakota. Well, that sealed it. We decided to go there instead. I have to say, it was well worth the trip. The Black Hills are beautiful, and I really liked the town of Custer. I was glad we were there after the peak tourist season. There is a museum on the outskirts of the monument with the largest display of native artifacts I'v ever seen. We were encouraged to watch a video about how the idea for the monument came about and the progress that's been made over the years. The sculptor was a Polish-American man by the name of Korczak Ziokowski. He met with the chiefs of the Sioux tribes back in the 1950's  who commissioned him to do the work. It became his passion and his life's work and he died without ever finishing it. He married and had ten children, seven of whom are still working on the project, using the detailed calculations that he left for them. Before he could begin he had to build steps to the top of the mountain-741 in all. He did the initial work with just a single jack and a ten foot steel bar to manually drill into the granite mountain. Eventually he was able to afford some equipment, a  pnuematic drill powered by an old Buda generator. He said one day he had to go back down the mountain nine times to restart the generator. Several times he was approached by the federal government with offers of money. It runs in my mind that ten million dollars was offered each time, but he had the foresight to decline, fearing that they wouldn't finish the project. No doubt he was correct. The project continues with money collected at the front gate and with donations of equipment and expertise from a number of commercial companies. If you would like to see more, google The Crazy Horse Monument, and for a really up close and personal look, you  can't go wrong visiting the monument and surrounding area. It's steeped in history and all manner of natural beauty. It took us sixty one years to make it there, I hope you don't have to wait so long.


  1. I enjoy all roadtrippin', firstperson storytellin'. But now a question for you, since you mentioned it: calf become calves, and I'f heard beef referred to as Berbers, how does a chief get to be chieves? Did they tell ya that? Huh? Did they??

  2. No. No they didn't, but then, I didn't ask. Apparently I had the wrong application, but I guess I'll live with it. Now I have a question- If you're in a room full of butlers names Jeeves, what is the plural?

  3. That's really neat, glad you guys got to see that!

  4. Are you from Brooklyn?

  5. Tom,
    I've enjoyed reading about your travels.
    Is the hole that you can see in the rock in the first picture something that was carved in, or was it already there as a natural occurrence?

  6. good blog dad. I love the pictures. so neat
    love you

  7. Hi Todd- that hole took a long time to blast through as I recall. I think it was important to give the workers a starting point for the arm. I suppose they will start at the hole and work towards the front, shaping the arm as they go. If I remember correctly, the arm is something like 235 feet long. When asked when they thought the project would possibly be finished, one of his sons refused to put a date on it. There are so many variables- the weather, money, any unforeseen snags. It's quite an undertaking. They believe that the mountain is all granite, but there could be other rock mixed in which could be a problem. Overall, it's a pretty fascinating thing to see.

  8. Hi Camille- it was really nice being able to take the pictures. I sure wish you could have been with us. I'd like to go back to Custer some day; perhaps it will work out then.