Mount Rushmore Road Trip Part 9

23 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 9 Thursday 


This morning I headed back into the Black Hills National Forest to visit the Civilian Conservation; Corps (CCC) Museum located in Hill City, SD.  This museum displays photographs and arifacts discribing the men and the projects related to South Dakota between 1933 and 1942.  The museum indicates that at least 30,000 men worked on CCC projects in SD alone with as many as 3-million being involved, nation-wide. during the same time period.

While I was in Hill City I tried to visit Wade’s Gold Mine but it was closed because of COVID-19, so I headed for the Mount Rushmore National Memorial to experience that great patriatic work of art.  A person really can’t imagine just how big the monument is from photos or videos.  When you are standing there looking up at it, the magnitude of the sculpture takes your breath away.  Wikipedia tells me that the project was started by Gutzon Borglum in 1925 with a commision orcastrated by Doane Robinson, known as “The Father of Mount Rushmore.“  The sculpture was completed in 1943 by Borglum’s son Lincoln after his father’s death in 1941.  It is said that some 400 workers were employed during  the 18 years of the project, and amazingly without a single fatality. 

After that exhilarating experience it was only a few miles northeast on US- 16 to visit the National Presidental Wax Museum located in Keystone, SD.  This is an amazing and informative museum with life-size wax figures of all 45 United States presidents, as well as 55 other important figures who have been an influence on our presidents during their years in office.  The self-guided audio narritive highlights the significant events each president, and his administration, are known for.

While I was in Keystone I visited The Big Thunder Gold Mine.  This attraction has it all for those wanting to experience the excitement of the Old West.  There is a guided tour of the mine (originally called the Gold Hill Lode) similar to many others that drew prospectors to the Black Hills area during the gold rush days of the 1890s.  There is a museum filled with antinqe mining tools and equipment used by the prospectors and miners to bring the gold and silver ore from the mines.  And best of all, you can acctually pan for gold in the mine (with all the necessary instruction and equipment provided by trained Big Thunder  staff).

As I was leaving Keystone I drove past Dahl’s Chainsaw Art schulper garden and just had to stop and take a photo or two.  This guy is amazing!  Jarrett Dahl has a huge display of chainsaw art pieces of every size and discription lining Iron Mountain Road (US-16A).  He or one of his team are constantly at work on a new design that you can watch take shape.  You can even request your own design and watch it being carved (for the right price).  Jarrett says his specialties are bears and eagles.

On the way to the motel in Rapid City I stopped to take a look at the Chapel on the Hill located just south of SD-44 in the Canon Lake Park area.  The chapel has an amazing story behind it.  Built in 1969 by Anton A. Dahl, the chapel is an exact reproduction of the famous Borgund Stavkirke in Laerdal, Norway.  A museum on the property is housed in an authentic 1800s Scandinavian log cabin that displays artifacts representing typical Nordic lifestyle of that time period.

Before getting to the motel, a Taco Bell caught my eye and I stopped in for one of their Mexican Pizzas with one of their desserts.  That rounded out my day with a happy tummy.  After checking into the motel, I recorded my exciting day’s activities and slept like a log. 

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

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