South Dakota generates $2 billion from tourism annually. A large contribution comes from the many monuments steeped in American history. Some of which are nestled in the picturesque mountains. From a native American war hero, presidents who helped shape America and crystal caved beauty discovered underground by explorers. Each embodies a unique purpose for their existence, all based in South Dakotas scenic mountains bordering the western skyline. In no particular order, please find bells a few of many incredible monuments for you to explore on your travels.
Crazy Horse Monument
An ambitious project, set to become the world’s largest sculpture, this monuments purpose represents the Native Americans fight for freedom to protect their culture and dwellings against it the US government invasion. The progress of this sculpture is set to emulate the form of a war hero called “Crazy Horse.” The beginnings of the monument were Instigated by Henry Standing Bear (Native American statesmen and elder) who commissioned polish sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to construct the memorial. The statue is still in progress since the construction began in 1948. The US government offered to fund the project, however, Korczak decided against this due to a lack of trust in the government and would only accepts donations to help construct the statue. Since Korczak’s death, his wife Rose and their 10 children continue to devote their time to finish making the figure. Although it is not completed, the principle of keeping the culture, tradition, and history are kept alive in the construction of a heroic native American. With a hotel near Crazy Horse monument situated just 10 minutes drive away, it’s a convenient resting spot following exploring the Crazy Horse memorial.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
With at least 3 million visitors per year, the Mount Rushmore national memorial is the monument which depicts the carved faces of four historical presidents who helped shape America: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The idea was initially conceived by Doane Robinson, who thought of the idea to sculpt famous people such as American West Heroes out of the needles (eroded granite panels based in the black hills). This was with a view to attract tourism to South Dakota. However, the artist and sculptor Gutzon Borglum decided the needles would not suffice for the sculptures and that it should be appealing for tourists on a broader scale, which is why Gutzon decided to choose the four presidents. Beyond its heritage, if the history is not of concern to you, the impressive carvings are worth viewing to appreciate the sheer size and attention to detail.
The earliest account of the cave discovered in 1900’s features two explorers Frank and Albert Michaud who found an entrance which appeared challenging to enter. Following blasting the cave with dynamite, an entrance was formed. The jewel cave features calcite crystals which sparkle brightly in the presence of light. As the crystals appeared to hold little monetary value, an alternative option was to develop the cave into a tourist attraction for all to view its glory. By 1961 a 15-mile trail was produced to host tourist trails and it became the third longest cave in the world. Whether to witness sheer crystallized beauty or to visit the cave for educational purposes, the jewel cave offers scientific findings and hosts a variety of cave animals. A must see for explorers and those who enjoy an exciting tourist trail.
Planning a visit to a monument whether passing or staying in the South Dakota area is a must to get a taste of its heritage and to explore incredible sculptures.
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