Monday, June 29, 2015

Mt. Rushmore

To promote tourism in South Dakota, a man named Doane Robinson came up with the idea of a huge carving in the Black Hills of 4 United States presidents.  Chosen to represent the first 150 years of American history were presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Danish-American sculptor Gutzon Borgium was hired to to design and lead the project.

Over 400 workers began work on the project in 1927 and the first face was completed in 1934. The last face was not completed until 5 years later in 1939. Originally, the carvings were to be of the 4 presidents from head to waist, but Gutzon died in March, 1941 and construction was halted for a short time. Gutzon's son, Lincoln Borgium took over leadership of the project, but funding was depleted by October, 1941 so work was stopped and the carving remains today as it was at that point.

Welcome to Mt. Rushmore, Lil Dude!
Robinson's idea has been an outstanding success as Mt. Rushmore is visited by over 2 million people each year and the huge carving has become an iconic symbol of America.

Heading up to famous Mt. Rushmore
The walkway to the overlook

From the viewing area
To get a much better & closer look, you need to walk
the Presidential Trail.

The Presidential Trail is a bit of a walk with a number of
stairs, but very worth it!
If you haven't been to Mt. Rushmore, Lil Dude Troll says
you should add it to your Bucket List!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Historical Mount Moriah Cemetery

Located in Deadwood, South Dakota is Mount Moriah Cemetery, the famous final resting place for several notorious Old West legends, outlaws, madams and murderers. Located on a mountain plateau above the city, the cemetery was established in 1878 and quickly began filling up with residents of Deadwood whose lives were ended by gunfire, mining accidents, Indians on the warpath, alcohol poisoning and other assorted calamities along with a few who died of natural causes.  

Among the eternal residents are Wild Bill Hickok (shot in the back of his head and killed by the drunken coward Jack McCall while he sat at a table in a saloon playing cards), Calamity Jane (notorious Old West female character who claimed to be Wild Bill Hickok's mistress and mother of his child, she died at age 51 of complications from alcoholism and is buried next to Wild Bill), Reverend Henry Weston Smith (preacher in Deadwood who was killed by Indians), "Potato Creek" Johnny (a 4 foot 1 inch miner who found one of the world's largest gold nuggets near Deadwood), and Seth Bullock who died in 1919 of cancer. Bullock, the first sheriff of Deadwood, brought law and some order to the town. Wild Bill was killed just one day after Bullock became sheriff. A week later, Wyatt Earp made it known he wanted to be sheriff. Bullock confronted him and told him Deadwood did not need his services. Rather than face him in a gunfight, Earp left town and returned to Dodge City. Seth later saw military service as one of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders.

   If you visit Mount Moriah, give yourself plenty of time to wonder around this interesting cemetery and wear comfortable walking shoes. Please remember, this is a sacred place and while there, be respectful, take nothing but photographs and do no harm.
Bust of Wild Bill Hickok on his grave
Many of the graves are enclosed with ornate
 iron fencing
A number of the graves are buried almost
directly in the sides of the mountain.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Checking Out South Dakota

South Dakota joined America as the 40th state on November 2, 1889. It is the 17th largest state in size at 77,121 square miles, but is only 46th in population with less than 845,000 residents. 

Most Americans think of South Dakota as mountainous due to it being the location of the Black Hills with the famous Mt. Rushmore National Memorial and the still incomplete mountain sculpture of Crazy Horse, but the majority of the state is actually rolling, temperate grasslands. 

The town of Spearfish was founded in 1876 during
the gold rush. It got the name from the fact it is
on a creek where the Indians used to spear the
fish for their supper.
The Black Hills have always been considered sacred land by the Sioux Indians. In 1868, the western half of present day South Dakota, which included the Black Hills, was acknowledged as belonging to the Sioux in the Treaty of Laramie. However, a military expedition into these sacred mountains led by George Custer found gold and when word got out, white miners and fortune seekers by the thousands invaded Sioux territory. When the military did not stop these illegal incursions, war broke out. Eventually the military defeated the Sioux and the Indians were forced out of the area onto reservations. The Sioux still consider the Black Hills to be their sacred land and in the 1970's, sued the United States in an effort to get the land back. The tribe won their court case at the Supreme Court level and the government was ordered to pay them a large monetary settlement. The financial offer was refused because the tribe insists the land is theirs and they will not settle for anything other than getting it back. The case is still open and not settled more than 35 years later.

Entering Deadwood, South Dakota
There are so many things to see and do in South Dakota that every troll should visit at least once in their life. From Mt. Rushmore to the Custer State Park, from Badlands National Park to the multiple stunning scenic byways to drive, you are sure to find many enjoyable ways to spend your time here!

Deadwood's history museum and information center
The Adams Museum in downtown Deadwood

At the Stamper Jewelry store outside of Deadwood.
Stamper has become widely known for its custom
jewelry featuring silver and Black Hills gold.
Statue of a miner outside Deadwood. Perhaps it is a tribute
to Potato Creek Johnny, a miner who stood only 4 feet 1 inch
tall. He came to the Black Hills in 1883 at the age of 18 and
spent years looking for gold. While prospecting on Potato
Creek, he found one of the world's largest nuggets, 7 3/4 oz of
solid gold. Johnny kept prospecting and entertained visitors
with his stories of Deadwood's early years until he died in
1943 at the age of 77.
Lil Dude at Bridal Veil Falls. In the Black Hills on the
Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, water cascades down a
shear 60-foot cliff. Two more falls even more impressive
are just a short hike away. With beautiful views around
almost every curve of this 20-mile drive, it proves to be
one of the prettiest in America.