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Crazy Horse Memorial & Mount Rushmore

After spending a day driving through Yellowstone National Park, the next destination on our 11-day journey across the United States was into the Black Hills of South Dakota to visit two monuments carved into the granite mountains – The Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore. These two monuments are located only 27-km (17-miles) apart and are essential stopovers on any cross-continent journey and can easily be done in the same day.

Originally planned to increase tourism in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore is dedicated to four presidents who had a major impact on the creation and establishment of the country. It has been depicted in several movies and other popular culture – including the headquarters of the World Police in Matt Stone and Trey Parkers Team America movie. It is an iconic part of American history.

The four presidents chosen for the memorial were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Rosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Mount Rushmore was finished in 1941, taking roughly 15 years to complete, and was a project undertaken by Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers and was funded by the US government. It was originally intended to depict the presidents from the waist up but after the death of Borglum, it ran out of funding, leaving just the four faces – which are 18-meters (60-feet) tall –  that remain today.

The Crazy Horse Memorial has a much different history. When local Indian Bands request to have one of their great leaders included in the Mount Rushmore project was rejected, they decided to build their own. Crazy Horse was a legendary military commander from the Lakota Tribe that resisted the expansionist attacks by the US, made famous for his role in winning the battle of Little Bighorn (also known as Custer’s Last Stand).

It was commissioned by Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear, a local tribal leader who wanted a monument remembering their great leaders. He was quoted as telling the sculptor “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too.” When completed, it will be one of the tallest statues in the world. It depicts Crazy Horse pointing over the lands of his ancestors.

After years of planning, work on the Crazy Horse Memorial began in 1948 and is still in progress today. Korczak Ziolkowski, who worked on Mount Rushmore, was the sculptor that designed the Crazy Horse Monument. When completed it will be 172-meters (563-feer) tall, and the face – one of the few parts of this monument that is completed – is 27-meters (87-feet) tall.

The original sculptor is long dead now, but his family still runs the Foundation that plans to turn this dream into a reality. They have turned down funding from other sources, and use the profits from the visitors center to pay for the construction. It is still a long ways from being completed

Crazy Horse Memorial:



The inspiration for the Crazy Horse Memorial. 2012.


The Road to Crazy Horse. 2012.


The Crazy Horse Monument. 2012.


Close Up. 2012.

Mount Rushmore:



Four Presidents. 2012.


George Washington. 2012.


The Black Hills. 2012.


Four Presidents. 2012.




Korczak Ziolkowski, who worked on Mount Rushmore, was the sculptor that designed the Crazy Horse Monument. 2012.


Zoomed out. 2012.


Lincoln. 2012.

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