Generation Z. Cruising in an RV.: Saluting Man-Made Wonders of South Dakota OLA

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Saluting Man-Made Wonders of South Dakota OLA

an ordinary American couple among America's greatest men
in one of America's finest memorials to democracy 
South Dakota is a true revelation. We thought that the only thing to see there is Mt. Rushmore and the unfinished Crazy Horse Memorial! Little did I know that tourism, aside from cattle, is its life blood. So, instead of a single post, it will probably take me 2 to tell all our stories and show our best photos! In this first part I will include the wonders made by man while the second will deal with those made by nature.  

the profile of America's father
Seeing Mt. Rushmore for the first time gave me goose bumps. 60-ft faces of 465-ft tall Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln were carved by Gutzon Borglum, under commission from the federal government, and 360 men on the solid granite walls of the mountain. Dedicated in 1927 and completed 2 years after the death of Borglum in 1941, it stands as a solid memorial of American democracy. Film greats such as National Treasure: Book of Secrets and North by Northwest were filmed there.

the Crazy Horse Memorial after 60 years
of dedicated work by the Korczak family...
to be completed in perhaps in another 60 years?
The other solid memorial will be the world’s largest sculpture, 641 feet long and 563 feet wide. Crazy Horse was the leader of the Indians who won at the Little Bighorn Battlefield and massacred the 263 men (please see my post last week), including Custer.  A private project started by the Lakota (Dakota came from this name) elders who in 1948 contacted Korczak, a Polish immigrant and former assistant to Borglum, it is now being continued as the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation of Korczak’s family.

the missile in its underground silo
ready for its asignment...no more!
Aside from these inspiring works, there is also a menacing testament to war and destruction. At the East Entrance to the Badlands is the Minuteman II Missile Historic Site, the first memorial to the Cold War after which thousands of such sites were deactivated. It consists of 2 sites: Delta 01, the Launch Control Facility and Delta-09, the Underground Silo. I shivered at the thought that 500 of these missiles that can be deployed remotely by the flick of a finger and render human tragedy are still active in the country.

the Traveler's Chapel at the Wall Drug Store
well, what can I do? Bill found another!
 At the West Entrance is the inspiring story of a hardworking prairie family. Ted Hustead graduated from pharmacy school in 1929. After 2 years of working with other pharmacists, he, wife Dorothy and son Bill set out to look for a small town with a Catholic church and found Wall. Five years later they stumbled upon the secret that made their store famous: free ice water for thirsty travelers! They continue to serve 5,000 glasses of ice water a day and Wall Drug Store has become a tourist destination with many ice water wells, a Traveler’s Chapel, 26 western retail outlets, 300 Western paintings, a 560-seat restaurant of western cooking, singing raccoons, a Jackalope, a roaring T-Rex, and other fun stuff!

the view of Rapid City from the Dinosaur Park
Washington and 43 other presidents
grace downtown Rapid City 
Rapid City has complemented all these attractions by building a Dinosaur Park with towering life-size prehistoric dinosaur replicas on its highest point. 43 presidents also grace downtown Rapid City! Kids will also have loads of fun at Teddy Bear Town (with the largest collection of teddy bears in the world), and Storybook Island, a 4-acre park of the best-loved fairy tale characters!

the absolutely lovely Chapel on the Hills
Another unique structure is Chapel on the Hills, an exact replica of the famous intricately carved wooden Stavkirk Chapel in Borgund, Norway (which we plan to see when we go to Europe). And Sturgis, the city that draws hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists for a mammoth rally every August, is just nearby!

the unique town of Sturgis
Colossal, menacing, inspiring, child-like, and quaint works of legends like Boglum, Korczak, the Husteads, etc. are all around the Black Hills of South Dakota. I am glad we allotted 3 weeks to stay here. We have not even told you about the works of nature. The Badlands, Custer State Park, Devil’s Tower, Mammoth Site, the cave systems, etc.  Stop by again next week!