America's National Western Wonders to Visit: Crazy Horse Memorial & Mt. Rushmore
South Dakota may not have a lot to offer as States go, but it is home to perhaps several awesome vacation places to visit and all fairly close to one another. Of course, Mt. Rushmore is world renowned for its carved presidents in solid granite that tower over us little humans. It was the scene of Alfred Hitchcock's best movie, North by Northwest, with Cary Grant in the late 50s. However, the newest addition is at the Crazy Horse Memorial, which honors the great Indian warrior, Crazy Horse, who defeated Custer in 1876 at Little Bighorn.
The stone monument was a 62 year old endeavor by Korczak Ziolkowski, which began chipping at the granite mountain 1948. When he died in 1982, his family and sons took over the project. Unlike the Mt. Rushmore that was paid for by the US government, Crazy Horse is a private project. It is the largest of all the granite faces measuring 641 feet long and 563 feet wide, which is eight feet taller than the Washington Monument!
Close by is the Custer Memorial Park, near the site of the infamous Little Bighorn Battle in 1876. It was one of the few battles the Indians decisively won and demolished the US cavalry. This is also well worth a visit on the same day. This area memorializes the U.S. Army's 7th Cavalry and the Sioux and Cheyenne in one of the Indian's last armed efforts to preserve their way of life. Here on June 25 and 26 of 1876, 263 soldiers, including Lt. Col. George A. Custer and attached personnel of the U.S. Army, died fighting several thousand Lakota, and Cheyenne warriors.
Mt. Rushmore National Park is close enough to be seen on the same day. Congress spent $250,000 on it in 1933 and by 1941it was opened to the public. The total cost to build it came to $989,000.