Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mount Rushmore

A tribute to four presidents and the contributions each made to the building, preservation, and growth of our great nation, Mount Rushmore is awe-inspiring to say the least.  Truly one of the great patriotic symbols of our country.

Our first glimpse was of George Washington in profile along CR 244 as we approached the entrance.  This view of Washington became visible from this angle after the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, had to blast Jefferson off the mountain after encountering a section of “bad” granite.  Jefferson was subsequently moved to the other side of Washington, leaving this great profile of the first president.

Lakota  Camp display
We joined the Ranger-led walk along the Presidential Trail.  Like most Ranger-led activities at the National Parks, this one was very informative.  The trail offered views of the mountain from many different angles.  My favorite, however, was the one as you come through the entrance with the mountain high above and the state flags of each of our 50 states lining the walkway.
National Park version of a winter count
After the Ranger portion of the walk was finished, we continued along the short Presidential Trail to Borglum’s studio then back to the visitor center for the 20 minute film.

The Black Hills are sacred to the Lakota Indians, so there was a small display along the Presidential Trail.  We stopped, of course, to investigate.  What caught our eye was an Appalachian Trail symbol painted on a buffalo hide.  Gene questioned the Ranger about this curiosity and learned that Native Americans often painted pictures on hides which they called “winter counts”.  At the end of each year, the artist would add one picture depicting the most notable event of the year, thus, as time passed, giving a record of tribal history.  On this particular hide, the artist had drawn images representing the “firsts” in each category of the National Park units.  The Appalachian Trail was the first long distance trail to receive the designation of “National Scenic Trail” by the park service.
Crazy Horse Memorial
On our way home, we stopped at the Crazy Horse Memorial.  This is a work in progress,  and will be for a long time to come.

Tomorrow, Harney Peak, South Dakota’s high point.

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