Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Rushing No More

I'm not really one for getting all excited about historical landmarks, national parks or things of that nature and since I've never been to Italy or Greece or Mecca, for instance, where things are really old, I guess I have yet to see much of anything that would completely wow me.

My travels have been confined to border towns in Mexico, seven provinces in Canada and all of the United States. I've been to the top of the Empire State Building, I've seen the Golden Gate Bridge, I've driven the Alaskan Highway and I've been to the Grand Canyon. Blah, blah, blah. As with most of these things, once I see it, my reaction is usually the same. "Wow. Awesome. Let's go have lunch."

If the place has any historical significance, there are only rare instances when I'm interested enough to read about it. History was never a favorite subject of mine so I investigate only the things that really intrigue me.

But, this past weekend, I was wowed; right here in America. Awed. Amazed. Speechless. How did that happen, you ask? Eddie and I visited
Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota, that's how. This was my first glimpse as we drove up the mountain and I guess I was surprised to see it right there on the side of the highway, since "Oooh! There it is!" burst out of my mouth. It kind of looked tiny. As we got closer, we were able to see more detail, but it was nothing compared to seeing it up close. If you click on the pictures, you'll see a larger version.
Once we got into the park, we were able to face it head on. This is what the mountain looks like when you're standing in the viewing area, right in front of the sculpture .I zoomed in on some of the details so you can see the work. Here is Washington's eye:A marbelized Teddy Roosevelt, complete with his pince-nez glasses: and Abraham Lincoln, looking all serious (as usual): I didn't get a close up of Jefferson, but I was amazed with all of them. Mostly, I was impressed with the story of the sculptor himself, Gutzon Borglum. It was said that he wasn't the most pleasant man to work for, but he obviously had enough talent to have been chosen to do this monument. The Lincoln Borglum museum on monument grounds, named for Borglum's son Lincoln who worked with his father and finished this sculpture after his father's death, contains a bookstore and major exhibits on the carving, the presidents, the sculptor, the workers and the history of the United States. I think it's one of the first exhibits I've been to where I read almost everything on display. Usually, I have the attention span of a small child.

Ed kept asking me why I was so "wow-ed" by it all, and the only thing I could think to say was that it wasn't just a
natural phenomenon, like the Grand Canyon or Devil's Tower or a Glacier; it was something that a man created, by hand. He literally sculpted a mountain.

I felt as if it were one of those special things that not everyone has an opportunity to see in person. There are many things people come across when traveling say, across country. But this isn't just one of the things along the way. This is something you actually have to plan to see. Because really, what other reason is there for going to South Dakota anyway? Which was exactly the plan that Doane Robinson, the state's historian, had back when he concocted the idea of carving people into mountains; he wanted to increase tourism. And since over three million people a year visit, I'd say his plan worked.

To me, this is something I'll never forget. I actually think I'd like to go back, and maybe next time, I'll plan my trip to coincide with Sturgis; the other reason people go to South Dakota.


Anonymous said...

I used to work for South Dakota Tourism. Mt. Rushmore does indeed bring many visitors. But, in addition to the Sturgis Rally, South Dakota also has pheasant hunting, snow skiing, the Missouri River with more shoreline than California and more! Visit again, and take in some other sites. Did you stop by the Crazy Horse carving? Another man-made mountain carving that's a work in progress.

Rita said...

did you drive your truck up to the parking area? We were just a few miles from Mt Rushmore once and a lady told us that we couldn't get our truck up the road to see if. Just wondering so next time we may be able to stop.

The Daily Rant said...


Yes, we actually did take the truck up there. We dropped our trailer at a lot at the bottom of the hill and drove the truck up. It was also off season though, so maybe it was a little easier to get around. Although, we did park VERY close to the visitor center when we got there and it was amazing seeing the mountain coming into view as we drove up.