Black Hills, South Dakota
August 2000

Mammoth Dig Site

From Scotts Bluff, Nebraska we headed north to the Black Hills of South Dakota.  We knew we wanted to visit Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower and the Badlands but discovered that there was much more to see.
Our first stop was a Mammoth Dig Site near Hot Springs, South Dakota.  This is where a large sink hole formed when the top of a sandstone cave collapsed in.  It formed a pool with steep edges that later filled with water.  When a mammoth or other animal entered or fell into the sinkhole, it couldn't get back out.
 As the hole filled with dirt and other sediments, the bones were covered.  It was discovered when a contractor was preparing the land for some new houses in the 1970's.

Today the site has been covered by a protective building and the digging slowly continues.  This hole contains a very large collection of mixed-up prehistoric mammal fossils.    You can even volunteer to dig each July.


Custer State Park, South Dakota
While in the Black Hills, we stayed in Custer, South Dakota.  On our way to Mt. Rushmore we drove through Custer State Park.  This is a beautiful park that provides an opportunity to see the diversity of the Black Hills.  We'll have to come back again and see more of this park.

One stop in the park was for a quick visit with some of the Park's wild burros.  Tame in demeanor -- wild in the sense of on their own.  They are descendants of burros left behind decades ago.


Mount Rushmore
Yet another Junior Ranger Patch!
This time they had to learn about the four presidents -- what made them stand out in history and the challenges Mr. Bergman faced carving each one in the granite. (Did you know that President Lincoln was originally to the left of President Washington?  A huge crack forced the sculptors to blow Abe up and reposition him on the right).

Crazy Horse Monument
Near Mt. Rushmore is the Crazy Horse Monument.
This project was started in 1949 by  Korczak Ziolkowski.  Korczak was an orphan at age one,  was self taught, never took an art class, but won first prize in art at the 1939 New York Worlds Fair.

"My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes too", wrote Chief Henry Standing Bear when he invited Korczak to the Black Hills and asked him to memorialize their great chief in stone.

He was almost 40 when he started and had only $178 to his name.  Over the decades he battled financial hardship, racial prejudice, injuries and advancing age.

He was a strong believer in the free enterprise system. He felt that Crazy Horse should be a nonprofit, educational and cultural project built by interested citizens and not the taxpayer.  Twice he turned down ten million dollars in federal funding.  He knew at the onset that this project was greater than one man so he laid plans and sculpted scale models for others to continue the project.
Here's a picture of one kids driving a load a souvenir blast rocks to the visitor center.  Seven of his children and his wife, Ruth, are working on the monument today. 

Korczak died in 1982 at the age of 72.  He is buried in front of the Crazy Horse Monument.

If you look carefully at this picture below the head, you can see a white trace in the rock.  This is where the head of the horse will be in years to come.  Today blasting is taking place to remove the stone above and in front of what will be the horse's head.

Early Monday morning we were at our trailer with a clear sight of the monument.  We heard a blast, looked up and saw the debris and dust from a blast on the mountain.

When completed the monument will look like the 1/300th scale model carved in white marble.

Korczak Ziolkowski, his wife and several of his children have dedicated their lives to this project.  I was touched by seeing this.
 

In short, I think it's a real pity that the majority of the children in this great country are shaped and molded to fit a somewhat "singular design" that is determined and demanded by the administrators of our public school system.


Jewel Cave National Monument
The Black Hills are filled with caves.  Jewel Cave is the third largest cave in the world with more than 100 miles of passage.  Each year several more miles of new cave are charted.

Since the cave is not well lit pictures did not turn out well enough for display on the web.

How could I pass up a picture like this?

COCOA

Yes, for everybody that asks, she's well, doing fine -- and still loves tennis balls more than anything else.


Devil's Tower, Wyoming

As the old Indian story goes -- One day six children were playing near the river when one of them suddenly turned into a huge bear.  The other terrified children ran away and climbed to the top of a large stump.  The bear chased them to the stump and scratched to get up to the top.  As the bear got closer to the children, the stump grew and grew.  The bear continued to scratch to the top until finally the children on the top were saved by becoming the stars of the Big Dipper.

 
Here's a picture to help show the scale of this tower.  The area in the blue box on the left is blown up so you can see the three people that are climbing  to one of the lower ledges.


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