South Dakota was one of my many favorite places on our recent road trip. The land was beautiful, wildlife was everywhere and the art was enormous! The sculpture everyone hears about in South Dakota is of course, Mt. Rushmore. There are paths throughout the park to view the presidents from just about every lower angle, with the result that we have dozens and dozens of photos of these guys from every vantage point. It would have been neat to be able to climb up higher and see them even closer, but then we'd just have way too many pictures! ;)
One of the places you can visit is the sculptor's studio. A ranger gave a talk about the history of the monument and the tools the sculptor and his team used on the mountain.
One of the many scale models (used for reference) was on display. I was interested to see how much of the presidents' torsos were originally intended to be part of the sculpture. Also, I thought the models' expressions were much more animated and sly than the very austere final results on Mt. Rushmore.
|In the model they look like they might be sharing secrets.|
The sculptor's son sculpted the sculptor.
There's also a park ranger whose job is to stand in the old sculpting area and sculpt for visitors all day long. What a great job!
After touring Mt. Rushmore, we drove to the mountain sculpture that's still in progress, the Crazy Horse Memorial. This mountain is even bigger than Mt. Rushmore and is funded by private donations and visits to the museum. It's a project begun in 1948 by the Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear and the original sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski (whose children now continue to carve the mountain).
|Ziolkowski's model statue shows how the mountain will eventually look. |
Its current progress is in the background.
The face alone is nine stories high! It's the world's largest mountain carving. Another statue showing how it will eventually stand ~ there's a lot of earth to move still.
Also inspirational were nature's carvings in the Black Hills. We took a scenic drive through these rock formations on the Needles Highway and saw deer, bison and a mountain goat along the way.
There were cute sculptures, too. The little town of Custer was decorated at each intersection with bison. Each one was painted differently.
And there was a giant prairie dog on the highway!
Then, we got to the Badlands. Wow. It looked like meteors fell into soggy earth or a giant was squishing his toes in clay ... and it went on for miles! (or kilometers, if you prefer)...
Some of the areas were "softer".
|I could see the dinosaurs roaming here. :)|
Apparently all of these formations were sculpted by wind and water erosion. It was almost hard not to believe that more fantastic forces were not at work, but in this photo I can see how water could have carved the deep rivulets.
I was very impressed with South Dakota's natural and manmade carvings. Almost looks like a painted backdrop behind me, doesn't it? :)