June 18, 2009
Big Pine Campground, Custer South Dakota
4 mile Ghost Town, Crazy Horse Memorial and Laser Light Show,
We decided to check out the Four Mile Ghost Town about two miles down the road. The town was named Four Mile because that was the distance from the last Stage Coach stop. Towns were named according to distances traveled between stops going west.
The ghost town was resurrected by the woman who currently owns the property. She told us she collected so many antiques that it was causing some strife in her marriage so she and her husband set out on a quest to find someplace big enough to bring her antiques and display them. They found this tract of land and learning the history of the town brought in fourteen replica buildings and three tractor-trailers filled with antiques to begin rebuilding the old town as it had been.
Today the ghost town has one hundred structures all replicated to the time period. The living conditions were abysmal and history has it that many of the people living in these squalor and horrible weather conditions developed mental illness.
Contrary to belief a basket case is not someone who is emotionally unstable. In the day if you were too poor to be buried in a box the town women would weave a basket out of hay and grass to use as a burial basket or something to case the body in – hence basket case
The coffins used were very narrow and short and the undertaker would make the body fit the casket – if you know what I mean – UGH!!! They would even dump the body in the dirt gravesite and keep the coffin for the next person. That is why the laws were passed to put vaults into gravesite.
As we walked through the ghost town we marveled at how strong the citizens of such a place had to be. The hardships they endured were hard to comprehend but they did and those were the people that made this country what it is today.
On the day we arrived at the campground the owner let us know that a food drive was going on at the Crazy Horse Memorial until June 21st and if we bring six cans of food to donate we qualify for free admission. Good deal – so Ron and I chose six cans of food to take from our overstocked cabinets and we headed to the Crazy Horse Memorial.
Arriving at the memorial we presented our can goods and received our free pass. There was no posting about the food drive so I think we surprised the people because we’re from MA and came prepared. Once inside we requested a return pass for the Legends in Light show later in the evening. The man at the desk wanted to know how we got a free ticket. I told him and he too was surprised but did give us our return pass. Live is good and free is better.
The idea of a Crazy Horse Memorial was that of the Lakota tribe Chief Henry Standing Bear. He invited Korczak the sculpture to the Black Hills to carve Crazy Horse. He wrote to Korczak, “ My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, too.”
Chief Henry Standing Bear learned of the sculptor when Korczak’s PADEREWSI: Study of Immortal man won first prize by popular vote at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. On May 3,1947 Korczak arrived in the Black Hills and accepted the invitation to carve Crazy Horse in the mountain. He was forty years old and had only $174.00 left to his name when he started work on the mountain. For ten years he worked alone cleaning the mountainside and preparing the surface for carving. He battled financial hardship, racial prejudice, injuries and advancing age.
Korczak’s Studio: ----------->
Korczak came from a difficult upbringing. He was born in Boston of Polish descent, and was orphaned at age one. He grew up in foster homes, was completely self-taught and never took a lesson in art, sculpture or architectural engineering. Interestingly he worked on Mount Rushmore under the guidance of Gutzon Borglum the architect of Mount Rushmore.
During his time on the mountain Korczak managed to get married to a much younger woman eighteen years his junior and have ten children - five boys and five girls. The boys worked on the mountain with the father while the girls helped the mother with what had now become a tourist attraction. Korczak had planned on carving the head of the horse first but his wife convinced him the head of Crazy Horse should be done first. It was a brilliant move and wise that he listened to his wife.
Funding for Crazy Horse is strictly through donations. It is a nonprofit educational and cultural, humanitarian project built by the interested public and not the taxpayer. Twice Korczak was offered ten million dollars in potential federal funding and twice he turned it down.
He knew that the project was larger then any on person’s lifetime so he and his wife Ruth prepared three books of detailed plans to be used with his scale models to continue the project. Today seven of his ten children are actively involved in the continuing effort to complete Crazy Horse. The project began in 1948 and it is estimated that is will take another fifty to sixty-five years to complete. Only the head and face of Crazy Horse is visible and not completely finished.
The Crazy Horse Memorial site houses an Indian Cultural Center, a restaurant, theatres, the Indian Museum of North America and the sculpture’s log-studio home. There is a plan to build a college on the site as well but they need fifty million dollars to do that.
Looking around we saw a lot of building going on but not a lot of work happening on the sculpture. I guess in order to make money then money has to be spent to bring tourists in.
It would make sense to me to cut back on the building of museums, etc and spend some of that money to get the sculpture done.
When finished the sculpture will be the largest in the world dwarfing the Pyramids of Giza. It will be 563 feet high and 641 feet long. The first blast on the mountain was June 3, 1948 and the nine-story face unveiling and dedication was on June 3, 1998 the Memorial’s 50th anniversary.
If anyone plans to visit bring the Grandkids because we won’t live long enough to see it completed but they may be able to come back in fifty years and remember when it was only a face.
We returned later that evening for the Legends in Light Show, laser light show on the face of the mountain. The show was nothing less then spectacular. Crazy Horse Memorial produces its exclusive light show with three of the largest lasers in the laser-light industry, an 8,800 watt stereo system, 25 2,000watt light banks around the mountain and three of the world’s largest slide-projectors.
It was a great way to end another great day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!