Day 243 – Badlands and Black Hills (Part 3)

Day 243 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

I started the morning at Crazy Horse Memorial.  The $10 parking fee gets visitors into the grounds and the museum, but getting closer to the incomplete monument requires a $4 bus ride.  I’m not much of a tour bus rider, so I skipped that part. If the monument were all I wished to see, I probably could have just snapped a photo from the highway and carried on. But I also checked out the museum and learned also sort of interesting the facts.

Crazy Horse Museum

First, the sculptor, Ziolkowski, began work on the Crazy Horse Memorial in 1947.  His wife and family have continued work on the carving since his death in 1982. Upon completion, the structure will be 563 feet high and 641 feet long and will be the largest sculpture in the world.  Additionally, the Crazy Horse Memorial will someday include a University and Medical Center in addition to the museum to provide technological, scientific, and cultural opportunities for the Native Americans. 

I particularly liked seeing the photos of the progress made on the Crazy Horse Memorial over the years as well as the diagram of the final piece superimposed over the current structure. The Indian artwork and artifacts were also nice to see.

Interestingly, the museum recounted the story at Fort Robinson differently from the story I reported a few days ago after visiting Fort Robinson.  The museum states that Crazy Horse was a fine warrior and never surrendered. At the age of 35, he was bayoneted, not on the battlefield, but under a
flag of truce at Fort Robinson. I don’t know which historical recollection is accurate.

Overall, I had a nice visit to Crazy Horse Memorial and look forward to seeing it progress over the years. I suppose it will take a while as the monument is funded strictly by visitor fees and does not receive any support from the Federal or State government. Perhaps I’ll return on a future first full weekend in June when they offer a hike up the road. That sounded cool!

Deadwood, South Dakota

After visiting the Crazy Horse Memorial, we continued on to Deadwood, a town full of casinos!  It is also the town where Wild Bill Hickok, the one-time lawman and full-time gambler, was killed by Jack McCall in 18756, less than a month after arriving.  He was shot in the back of the head while playing poker at a local saloon.  It is said that Hickok was clutching black pairs of aces and eights, this day known as the dead man’s hand, when he was mortally wounded. 

He is buried in the Boot Hill section in the town’s Mount Moriah Cemetery.  Calamity Jane (Martha Canary), who lived 53 years which was longer than most, is laid to rest next to him.  She claimed to be Hickok’s sweetheart, though most historians claim this was a figment of the bull train worker’s and wild west show performer’s imagination.

Rough Lock Falls

Petey and I piddled around, enjoyed a burger at Deadwood Dick’s Saloon, took in the sights and followed the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway toward the South Dakota/Wyoming border.  The drive through the Black Hills National Forest alongside a creek was just lovely.  A sign pointing to Rough Lock Falls and the film site for Dances with Wolves caught my attention, so I turned off onto the dirt road and bounced three miles to the location. 

Sadly, I’ve never seen Dance With Wolves, but one of the locals told me I was at the site of the last scene and that is was very overgrown.  I walked through the tall grass to the creek and then turned to go to the falls a mile down the way.  The falls were just beautiful.  Petey and I took the paved trail along the creek and across the bridge to admire the water crashing over the ledge.  Unfortunately, the bright sun interfered with my amateur photography skills!

Sundance, Wyoming

We spent the rest of the day traveling to Sundance, WY.  I was expecting a cute mountain town.  What a surprise.  I think it was a total of four city
blocks.  Businesses included a few gas stations, a Best Western, Subway, Napa Auto Parts, a coffee shop, a yoga studio, a bar, one restaurant, a bank, and of course a Harley Davidson store.  I think there was a Harley Davidson store in every town I passed through today!  

I thought Sundance is where Robert Redford owns a place and it is home to the Sundance Film Festival…very hard to imagine…do I have that wrong!?!  I camped out at the Conoco with the truckers!  I plan on visiting the museum in the morning which has a display on the Sundance Kid.  ETB

Map of My Road Trip Across the USA

For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.