Needles Hwy/Crazy Horse...
Sep 10, 2011
|We got a reasonably early start today on the 14-mile scenic Needles Highway which winds through pine, spruce and aspen forest under a vista of granite spires called “the Needles.” The route snakes through several small granite tunnels, past the 'Eye of the Needle' and several open meadow areas. Last year we encountered a large herd of bighorn sheep but they were nowhere to be found today. Ah well, I'm sure we'll encounter them in the park somewhere in the next few weeks. It was another beautiful day with temps in the high 70's and made for a lovely drive. I drove & Bonnie side kicked up front while the guys rode in the rear. Makes it easier to make frequent photo stops when I'm in control of the brake pedal, lol! We arrived late in the afternoon so only stopped briefly at the pretty little Sylvan Lake. It was time to head home for dinner before leaving for this evenings trip to Crazy Horse Memorial.
Today there was not only the usual laser show scheduled but an evening blast to celebrate Ruth Ziolkowski's birthday as well. You might remember from an earlier post that in addition to the mountain sculpture, Crazy Horse Memorial also has a 40,000-square-foot welcome center with two theatres, and is home to the Native American Educational and Cultural Center, and the Indian Museum of North America. Also on site are Ziolkowski’s log home studio and workshop, indoor and outdoor art galleries, and the museum gift shop. Our first stop this evening was at the theater to view the film 'Dynamite and Dreams'. I love that film and could watch it 100 times, it always cracks me up. Korczak was such a cool guy!
In case you aren't familiar with Crazy Horse, a bit of info for you. Crazy Horse is perhaps most famous for defeating General George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. A brilliant military tactician, Crazy Horse never lost a battle. Ironically, he was killed not in war, but while parlaying with the U.S. Army. In the middle of a truce, a scuffle broke out and a soldier stabbed Crazy Horse in the back. The Sioux leader remains a symbol to his people of a courageous warrior, a man who never compromised his values. He is a hero not only because of his skill in battle, but also because of his character and his loyalty to his people. He is remembered for how he cared for the elderly, the ill, the widowed and the children. His dedication to his personal vision caused him to devote his life to serving his people and to preserving their valued culture.
In 1939, Henry Standing Bear, an Oglala chief, wrote to Korczak Ziolkowski, a sculptor who had assisted in carving the Presidential faces on Mount Rushmore. Standing Bear invited him to build a monument to Crazy Horse. "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes too," he wrote. Indian representatives were adamant that a home for the monument be found in the Black Hills - sacred land of their people.
Accepted Standing Bear's invitation and with his own savings, Ziolkowski obtained a special permit that allowed him to stake a mining claim on a mountain in the Black Hills. On June 3, 1948, with 5 survivors of the Battle of the Little Bighorn attending the ceremonies, Ziolkowski watched as Standing Bear and South Dakota Gov. George T. Mickelson set off the first charge of dynamite. The sculptor and the Indian chief had launched a dream.
Sixty-three years after Ziolkowski began carving Crazy Horse Memorial, work progresses on the world's largest mountain sculpture. Today, seven of Ziolkowski’s children and his widow Ruth continue with Korczac’s dream of completing the memorial. When finished, the memorial will be 641 feet long—nearly the length of two football fields—and 563 feet high. The face of Crazy Horse, measuring 87.5 feet high, was completed in 1998. By comparison, the heads of the four U.S. Presidents at Mount Rushmore are each 60 feet high and the entire carving of Mount Rushmore could fit in the area of Crazy Horse’s face and flowing hair!
After spending an hour or more seeing the museum etc., we enjoyed the laser-light storytelling "Legends in Light", a program that uses an 8,800-watt stereo system, twenty five 2,000-watt lights and three of the world's largest slide projectors. But the highlight of the evening had to be the blast! The second night blast of this year was a tribute to memorial sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, born 103 years ago, and Lakota war leader Crazy Horse, who was stabbed by a soldier on Sept. 5, 1877, and died the next day at Fort Robinson, Neb. Tonight the Memorial gratefully accepted three cans of food per person for the KOTA Care and Share Food Drive in lieu of the regular admission fee and raised $7,084.26 and 7,565 pounds of food! How terrific is that.
We enjoyed watching the blast this evening from the comfort of our chairs on the upper level of the parking area. We had a great view as the pyrotechnics encircled the mountain, producing fiery percussion's that sounded like a huge beating drum. It was way cool! Below is a 'youtube' link to a short video if you'd like to view it for yourself. Enjoy!
Crazy Horse Blast