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Motor Coach Tour 2011
Sunday, May 22nd

Rapid City, South Dakota

The sightseeing agenda for today consisted of the Crazy Horse Monument in the morning and Mt. Rushmore in the afternoon. The group has now increased in size to 17 with those that made it to Rapid City. The late arrivals (another 7 at this point) are expected late this afternoon. The departure time was set for 9:00AM so there was some time to see the downtown area in daylight.

Here, to start, are two pictures of the hotel:

Radisson Mt Rushmore Hotel Hotel Air Contitioner
Here is the Radisson Mt. Rushmore Hotel located on the corner of Main St. and Mt. Rushmore Drive. On the roof of the hotel restaurant, just behind the traffic light in the centre of the previous picture, is this air conditioning unit decorated to look like Mt. Rushmore. I thought is was kind of novel considering the name of the hotel. It is also interesting in that it is painted on two sides of the unit but it almost looks straight.

Rapid City calls itself the City of Presidents. I guess that comes partly from being the nearest city of any size to Mt. Rushmore. In their downtown area they have what is called the City of Presidents. It is likely easier to use their explanation of what it is all about taken from the web site..

"Visitors to historic downtown Rapid City are greeted by the City of Presidents, a series of life-size bronze statues of our nation’s past presidents along the city’s streets and sidewalks. Whether you’re enjoying downtown shopping, dining or other attractions, you can enjoy these sculptures free.
The City of Presidents project began in 2000 to honour the legacy of the American presidency. Each year, four presidential sculptures are added in downtown Rapid City – two presidents from the early years of the presidency and two from more recent administrations. Each of the sculptures is privately funded, and the pattern of placement was chosen to maintain a coherent structure and eliminate any sense of favouritism or political gain. The project will end in the fall of 2010".

I did not go looking for all 41 of them but here are pictures of the four that were on the corners by the hotel.

President Kennedy Taft
John F. Kennedy and a boy.
(I am not sure of the significance of the boy.)
William H. Taft
Van Buren Jackson
Martin Van Buren
Andrew Jackson with a view down Mt. Rushmore Drive.

If you want to see photos with brief bios of all the rest of the presidents statues and a map of which corners they are on in Rapid City you can go the the web site This is the same link as the one above and will take you directly to the this page.

To complete the downtown views of Rapid City here are two general views.

Bob's Shoe Repair Corner View
I took this picture mainly for the sign in the 2nd doorway.
Looking down Main St. from in front of the hotel.

This concludes our brief tour of downtown Rapid City. Now out into the Black Hills and the two mountain sculptures.

Below is a map showing very simplified routes to and the locations of the two sites. We visited the Crazy Horse Monument first and then Mt Rushmore for lunch and the afternoon. I believe we followed the route shown in red between the two monuments and Route 16 the rest of the way.

Map 1

Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear wrote in the late 1930's that "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, also". This was written when they invited sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to create the Crazy Horse Memorial. The reason Crazy Horse was chosen is complicated but based on what I have read and heard during this trip he is a really good choice.

Work started on the mountain in June of 1948 and you will see from the pictures below that there is a long way to go yet. Korczak Ziolkowski died in 1982 and since then his wife and 7 of his children continue to work on it. It is funded only by donations with no government money of any kind involved. The sculptor and his family strongly believe in the free enterprise system and that is the only way it will be completed. Basically donations and admission fees are paying to continue the work on it.

Here are some facts about the sculpture and the model from which it is being built. The model is 1/34th scale and weights something like 16 tons. The full size sculpture is 563 ft or 171.6 meters tall and 641 ft or just over 195 metres long. The head is 87.5 ft or 26.6 meters high and the arm (the flat part just below the head is 263 ft or just over 80 meters long. The horses head is (or will be) 219 ft or 66.75 meters high.

So here are the pictures:

Crazy Horse 1 Crazy Horse 3
The view from one mile away.
Closer view.
Crazy Horse 9 Crazy Horse 5
Just the sculpture portion of the mountain. You can see the outline of the horse's head painted on the side. Closer view of the base of the sculpture and the outline of the horse's head.
Crazy Horse 7 Crazy Horse 7
What the sculpture will look like when completed.
The stat sheet beside the model.
Crazy Horse 11 Crazy Horse 6
The model and the sculpture as of May 22nd. There is a long inscription that will be carved behind the statue.
This will give you a bit of an idea of what it will look like.
Crazy Horse Welcome Centre Crazy Horse Museum
The Welcome Centre.
Part of the museum.

Crazy Horse Road

The road to the base of the mountain/statue.

If you want to know more about the Crazy Horse Monument you can go to their web site .

This took us up to about 11:45AM and then we headed to Mt. Rushmore about 10 minutes away.

Here are some pictures taken along the way.

Rocks 1
GW from road 1
Some scenery along the road between the Crazy Horse Memorial and Mt. Rushmore.
What is everyone looking at?
GW from road 2
GW from road 3
I think there is a face up there!!!
By George, it's George Washington up there!
This is the only one of the four faces that make up the memorial that can be seen from this location. The entrance to the National Memorial is just around the corner a bit further up the road.

After making a brief stop to see George from this somewhat unusual angle we continued up the road and into the memorial.

Entrance to Mt. Rushmore Avenue of the Flags 1
The entrance to the National Memorial.
The Avenue of the Flags. There is a flag here representing every US state and territory.

The place where most people view the sculpture from is called the Grand View Terrace. This was the setting for the tours group picture. So here we are.....

Tour Group Photo

So, this is the group as it was at that point. In case you cannot locate me I am the 3rd one in from the left in the back row with the really dark glasses. I do not remember all these peoples names but I remember the the tall gentleman next to me on the right (as you look at the picture) is from New Hampshire and his wife is right in front of him. The Australian husband I refer to in the next paragraph is next right of him. The two other people from Canada are the first person on the right in the back row and the person (almost right beside her) in the blue third from the end in the front row. Tour Director Jack is on the far right. There were still 7 more people that had not yet made it to Rapid City. By the end of the day we will know how many get here.

After the picture was done we all went our different ways to meet again several hours later. I took a walk along the Presidents Trail with our Australian couple who are the two tall people just to the right of the short woman in the centre of the front row of the group picture above. The husband is in the back row and wife is in the front row.

The Presidents Trail is a walking trail that treks across the base of the mountain. It is about a half a mile or about one kilometre long and gets one as close to the sculptures as anyone (short of the maintenance people) can. Before we left the Australian couple asked me to take their picture in from of the sculptures which I did and he took mine.

Me at Mt Rushmore

Who is this guy with the black glasses???

The next group of pictures were taken as we worked our way along the Presidents Trail.

GW 1 from Trail Thomas Jefferson from Trail
George Washington close-up.
Thomas Jefferson close-up
Theodore Roosevelt from Trail Abraham Lincoln from Trail
Theodore Roosevelt close-up.
Abraham Lincoln close-up.
Artsy shot of GW Pres Trail group
An artsy shot through a crack in a rock wall.
This is about a close as one can get and still see it.
Trail View 1 Sculpture from further along
An idea of what the 2nd half of the Presidents Trail is like.
Another group view from a bit further along.
Scenery from Trail Grand View Terrace & Ampatheatre
A view looking out over the Black Hills towards Rapid City.
The Grand View Terrace and part of the Amphitheatre.
Model 1 View from Sculptors Studio
This is the way the monument would have looked had the sculptor not died and the 2nd World War not started. This is the model that was used to create the monument. Measurements were taken from this model and transferred to the mountain to make the sculptures. A view from the Sculptors Studio with part of the model.

After completing the Presidents Trail we went and had lunch in the restaurant at the site and saw one of the films about the creation of it. As we were coming out the sun started to come out (it never completely came out but just about) and I took two of the best photos I was able to get of it. I am displaying these ones larger here for this reason.

Sunny Mt Rushmore

The change in the light has some interesting effects.

Mt Rushmore in Sun 2

There is not a lot of sun here but just enough to highlight the monument.
The stage area of the Amphitheatre is at the bottom.
The monument is lit at night and there is a ceremony done here each night to do it.

Mt Rushmore Workers Gutzon Borglum Sculptor
A plaque showing all the workers who helped to create the
Mt. Rushmore National Monument.
The Sculptor: Gutzon Borglum.

Here is a final view, in somewhat better light, as we left to return to Rapid City.

Avenue of Flags on departure

Here are a couple of picture taken from the motor coach windows as we drive down out of the Black Hills and back into Rapid City.

Return to Rapid City 1 Return to Rapid City 2
Some Black Hills scenery as we returned.
Rapid City and the western edge of the Great plains

After returning around 4:30 to the hotel I went out for dinner with the Aussie couple and the couple from New Hampshire at a place on the main street of Rapid City called the Old Firehouse I think it was. It was a pretty heavy duty western sports bar and grill built in an old firehouse (strangely enough).

Upon our return to the hotel we found out that five of the seven people who were delayed by the weather were going to get there and other two got tired, gave up and went home. So that makes the final total for the rest of the tour of 22 people plus coach driver Lee and Tour Director Jack. Not bad for a coach that seats 45.

Thus ends this day. Tomorrow on to Sheridan, Wyoming via that rough and tumble place known as Deadwood.

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Created: August 3rd and 4th, 2011
Last Updated: Thursday, August 25, 2011 10:56 AM