Great American Vacation 2012 - Crazy Horse Memorial

Great warrior of the Black Hills

Great American Vacation 2012 – Crazy Horse Memorial

Great American Vacation 2012 - Crazy Horse Memorial

June 8, 2012

Just like Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial is another incredible sculpture blasted and carved out of the rock in the Black Hills in South Dakota. This sculpture honors Crazy Horse, an historically famous Oglala Lakota warrior, riding a horse and pointing into the distance.

The project was started by Lakota elder Henry Standing Bear in 1929. He asked Polish-American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to craft a memorial of the great hero of the native Americans. Ziolkowski had worked with Gutzon Borglum on Mount Rushmore in 1924 and he had the experience necessary to push forward with the project. Standing Bear insisted that the sculpture be crafted out of the Black Hills, which are sacred to the Lakota culture. After making models, Ziolkowski started blasting the rock in 1948. When Korczak died on October 20, 1982, his parting words to his wife were, “You must work on the mountain — but go slowly so you do it right.” Work on the sculpture continues today and blasting can be seen and heard at various times during the day when conditions are just right.

Dedicated in 2000, the 40,000 square foot Welcome Center is the main entrance to the complex and features photos and historical information about the sculptor and Chief Standing Bear as well as an authentic plains tipi.

The Indian Museum of North America is home to an extraordinary collection of art and artifacts reflecting the diverse histories and cultures of the American Indian people. The museum collection started with a donation in 1965 by an important Sioux collector. The museum was designed and built by Korczak himself during the harsh winter of 1972 and 73 when no work on the mountain was possible. It incorporates his love of wood and natural lighting throughout. The museum was dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30th 1973. One large room in the museum contains historical photos, a sculpture of the finished rock carving, and a scale model of Korczak’s vision of the site.

When Korczak moved to the Black Hills to start on the sculpture, he lived in a tent the first year while he cut, peeled and notched trees to build this log home and studio. Along with all the antiques, many of Korczak’s works of art are on display here.  Among these are the Horse’s Head that he carved in nine days, Old Pagen, and the Polish Eagle. The “Big Room” as the Ziolkowski children called it, is still home for Korczak’s wife Ruth and the family.  Holidays and other family get-togethers are still celebrated in this room today.


Video from our visit:


Photos from our visit:



About Chris Disdero

Occupation: Software Engineer; Favorite Languages: C++ C# Objective-C; Favorite Challenge: Connecting complex programs together so that elements of one UI interoperate within the other UI; Passions: Learning new things. Photography. Electronic Music. Astronomy. Model Railroad Miniatures, Designing web sites; Favorite Getaway: San Juan Island; Personal Motto: “No matter where you go, there you are.” View all posts by Chris Disdero

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