Fort Pierre National annd Mt Rushmore - a giant monument to 4 Presidents - Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt and overnight at Keystone
We left at 7.30am this morning (the first time a Continental Breakfast was included). We started with a drive through Fort Pierre National Grassland to see the prairie as it once was when only buffalo and the Sioux Indians occupied the land.
We had a morning stop at a Badlands Trading Post.
Next was Badlands National Park, where 37 million years of wind and water have carved out a remarkably colourful sight. Badlands National Park lies in South Dakota, encompassing territory originally held by the Sioux Nation of Plains Indians. It contains 244,000 acres of untouched wilderness, including visually striking hills and valleys, along with grass prairie. It was designated a national park in 1978, and contains hiking and biking trails.
The park contains numerous examples of native wildlife, notably the American bison, which grazes on the plains, and smaller animals, such as the badger and black-tailed prairie dog. Most notably, since 1994 the park has served as the site for the reintroduction of the black-footed ferret, one of the most endangered animals in the world, which depends upon the park’s protected status to thrive.
The hills and buttes in Badlands National Park consist largely of sedimentary rock. Because they have eroded in such dramatic formations, it’s easy to detect the geological history of the area through the different-colored layers of rock visible in the hillside. The rock in the park is eroding at a rate of 1 inch per year; branches of the Cheyenne, White, and Bad rivers contribute greatly to the erosion.
The Ghost Dance
In 1890, Badlands National Park witnessed one of the last "ghost dances" at Stronghold Table. The Lakota Indians believed that the dance rendered them impervious to bullets and that it would push the encroaching white men out of their territory. The area retains deep significance to the Lakota Indians and the Oglala Lakota tribe administers the Stronghold Table site with the National Park Service.
During World War II, the US government took over a portion of the Pine Ridge Reservation for use as a gunnery range. That area now falls within the purveyance of the park, in the Stronghold District. From 1942 until 1945, the military tested new forms of artillery there. After the war, the South Dakota National Guard used it as an artillery range. The Air Force declared the range excess property in 1968, and while the military retains 2,500 acres, it is no longer used.
We stopped for lunch at a very unusual little town called Wall. In the Depression Years, a pharmacist and his family started a drug store in Wall. They came close to going broke when they came up with the idea of free iced water for travellers and 5 cent cups of coffee. They still do this today. Itis a very thriving business taking up quite a bit of a town block.
Later in the day, we headed deep into the Black Hills and beheld the granite faces at Mt Rushmore, a giant monument to four American Presidents - Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt.
The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota, in the United States. Sculpted by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum, Mount Rushmore features 60-foot (18 m) sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The entire memorial covers 1,278.45 acres (5.17 km2) and is 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level.
South Dakota historian Doane Robinson is credited with conceiving the idea of carving the likenesses of famous people into the Black Hills region of South Dakota in order to promote tourism in the region. Robinson's initial idea was to sculpt the Needles; however, Gutzon Borglum rejected the Needles site because of the poor quality of the granite and strong opposition from environmentalists and Native American groups. They settled on the Mount Rushmore location, which also has the advantage of facing southeast for maximum sun exposure. Robinson wanted it to feature western heroes like Lewis and Clark, Red Cloud and Buffalo Bill Cody but Borglum decided the sculpture should have a more national focus, and chose the four presidents whose likenesses would be carved into the mountain. After securing federal funding, construction on the memorial began in 1927, and the presidents' faces were completed between 1934 and 1939. Upon Gutzon Borglum's death in March 1941, his son Lincoln Borglum took over construction. Although the initial concept called for each president to be depicted from head to waist, lack of funding forced construction to end in late October 1941.