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The largest mountain carving in the world

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By Wayne Lazarus on April 27th, 2010

Categories: Linda's Travel Articles

Over 60 years ago, a group of Native Americans contacted Korczak Ziolkowski and asked him to create a memorial to the legendary Crazy Horse. Ziolkowski had been one of the sculptors on the Mount Rushmore carvings. An orphan of Polish descent, he agreed and the project became his life’s work. He moved his family to the South Dakota Black Hills in 1947 and set up about creating what will become, when it is complete, the largest mountain carving in the world. Ziolkowski died in 1982 at the age of 74, but his work continues through his family and the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. His widow, a number of their ten children and several grandchildren are continuing with the sculpture. He never took a salary for his work on the Crazy Horse Memorial and the organization that continues the work takes no state or federal funding. That is one of the reasons there is no estimated completion date for the carving.aerial crazy horseBut there is still quite a bit to see here along U. S. Highway 17/385 in Southwestern South Dakota, located 17 miles from Mount Rushmore. The granite face of Crazy Horse, of whom it is said no photograph was ever taken, is visible at the mountain top, as well as the top line of his left arm, which will be resting atop the horse’s head and pointing to¬† “the land where my people are buried.” The face alone is nine stories high. Additionally, the site includes an expansive welcome center, the Indian Museum of North America, the sculptor’s studio and the Native American Educational and Cultural Center. Visitors can see models of the planned sculpture.model crazy horse

The project is financed by admission fees and contributions. There have been many notable contributors, including Sioux Falls businessman T. Denny Sanford who set up a $5 million challenge grant to be matched. Various events are held throughout the year, including Ziolkowski’s birthday, which is also the anniversary of the death of Crazy Horse. Laser light shows are held weekends between Memorial Day and Native American Day in October. The Crazy Horse Volksmarch, held in early June, is a 10K hike in which participants can stand along what will be the outstretched arm and see the carving up close. Make your reservations through in Custer, Hot Springs or Rapid City, South Dakota.

(Photos courtesy Crazy Horse Memorial, used with permission.)

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