Hi everyone! It’s Di again with YMATD. I am back with a great adventure seen “Through My Eyes”. I want to share my latest road trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota. As I explore this great state, I’m confident that you’ll want to see the scenery and its most unique attractions. The territory that became South Dakota was added to the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1804 the first American settlement was established at Fort Pierre by frontier explorers Lewis and Clark. This virgin territory was incorporated into the Union on November 2, 1889, along with North Dakota. A major part of South Dakota’s economy is supported by tourism, which is brought on by viewing all its great History. Go ahead and sit down with your favorite beverage, relax and come with me to see “Through My Eyes” some awesome Historic Landmarks.
Sturgis is located in an old mining area in the Black Hills where horses once lined the main street. From August 8 thru the 14 you will find thousands of motorcycles instead of horses. This usually peaceful and subtle town experiences crowds of over half a million strong! Bikers travel from all parts of the US and Canada to participate in the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The sound of revving motorcycles takes over this normally quiet mountain community. It’s no surprise that this is home to the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame.
I started today’s drive on 14-A to Deadwood, South Dakota, which is located minutes from the Black Hills National Forest. Deadwood is a small town rich in America’s Wild West history. It became the first National Historic Landmark in South Dakota back in 1961. How many of you remember “Wild Bill” Hickok – a. k. a.; J. B. Hickok (James Butler)? He was one of the greatest gunfighters known to Western history. Wild Bill always carried two ivory handled 1851 Navy Colt revolvers – 36 caliber six shooter.
I am not quite sure if this is a detriment or fortunate event for Deadwood, but here is where Hickok met his fate. I decided to check out the infamous Saloon No. 10, which became a very historical Spot of the Old West. Wild Bill was a regular at the poker tables in the Saloon. On August 2, 1876, Wild Bill was playing cards with his back to the saloon’s door (as illustrated in the picture below – left) when a young gunslinger named Jack McCall walked into the saloon. He approached Wild Bill from behind and shot him dead in the back of the head. According to legend, Wild Bill held a pair of black aces and black eights when he died. This combination of cards has since been known as the “Dead Man’s Hand”.
My next adventure seen “through my eyes” is a trip to Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills. The Crazy Horse Memorial project is being carved out as a dedication to the Spirit of Crazy Horse and his people. His left hand will be outstretched in ‘question’ to the white man, “Where are your lands now?” He replied, “My lands are where my dead lie buried.”
The story begins with a Sculpture – Korczak Ziolkowski (pronounced “Jewel-cuff-ski) who worked as an assistant to Gutzon Borglum at Mount Rushmore in 1939. That same year Chief Henry Standing Bear of the Oglala Sioux, wrote to Ziolkowski asking him to consider carving a giant sculpture dedicated to the American Indian. Standing Bear said, “Would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes also!” Ziolkowski, a determined artist, loved the challenge and was inspired to dedicate the rest of his life to the sculpture.
In 1950 Ziolkowski married Ruth Ross and she followed him to the Black Hills. They had ten children and the memorial became a family undertaking as a humanitarian movement. Realizing the project would span over generations, Korczak and Ruth (pictured; above – left & left) created a plan to ensure its future by establishing the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. The memorial is NOT a federal or state funded project. The admissions, gift shops, and all of the donations raised go to the Crazy Horse non-profit Foundation that supports the mountain carving. I hope one day you will get the opportunity to visit this dream of the Ziolkowski family and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear.
Doane Robinson envisioned creating an attraction so big that it would bring people from all over the world to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Gutzon Borglum agreed to meet with Robinson regarding his dream. He wanted something with national significance that was relevant to our country’s history and Democracy. Immediately after Borglum agreed to be a part of the project, Robinson and South Dakota’s U.S. Senator Peter Norbeck began to secure federal funding. They invited President Calvin Coolidge to visit Custer State Park for a vacation. Norbeck and Robinson schemed the President by filling the stream, which was located outside his room with trout. The President found the fishing to be great and decided to extend his vacation for another two months. This gave them enough time to convince President Coolidge to fund the carving of Mount Rushmore.
There is so much I still want to tell you. However, I have to leave some history out there so you can go and see for yourself this incredible State. I hope you enjoyed seeing “through my eyes” how beautiful Our United States of America truly is. I look forward to being your chaperon again in the near future.
Mount Rushmore was declared complete on October 31, 1941. Unfortunately, Gutzon unexpectedly died in March of 1941 and didn’t get to see its full completion.
The Faces on Mount Rushmore are: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
The heads are about 60 feet tall. Washington’s nose is 21 feet long and the rest are approximately 20 feet. The eyes are about 11 feet wide and the mouths are approximately 18 feet wide.
Author: Diana Blevins
Photography: Diana Blevins
Associate Editor: Maureen Scopel
Article Layout: Anthony Scopel
Technical Mastering & Support: Matt Kemper