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Sculpting History: 19 Captivating Facts About the Iconic Crazy Horse Monument

The massive and magnificent sculpture, the largest and most time-consuming mountain monument ever created, Crazy Horse Memorial, is continuously being built. The monument is situated in South Dakota’s Black Hills atop a mountainside.

About 15 miles away from the presidential sculpture is the Crazy Horse Memorial, which honours at the Battle of Little Bighorn, the Lakota leader who battled General George Custer. The carvings on Mount Rushmore were finished in 1941, but the Crazy Horse Monument is still a stunning work in progress. However, you should know several things before visiting the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota.

Monumental Marvels

1) The Crazy Horse Monument Is the World’s Eighth Wonder in Progress

crazy horse monument
Image by Mike from Pixabay/Copyright 2019

The Crazy Horse Memorial will be the largest sculpture in the world when it is built. With roughly 171 metres in height, it is also recognised as the eighth wonder of the world. Comparatively, if the presidents’ faces from Mount Rushmore were stacked on top of one another, Crazy Horse would be little more than halfway covered.

2) The Crazy Horse Monument Is Huge

The monument, which is 641 feet long and 563 feet tall, will break the record for the most famous mountain sculpture when finished. To put those numbers into perspective, the Crazy Horse Memorial will be eight feet taller than the Washington Monument and over ten times bigger than Mount Rushmore. And the Lakota warrior’s arm is almost as high as an American football field as it gestures to the land of his people, parallel to the horizon.

3) Location of the Crazy Horse Monument

4 miles north of Custer and 9 miles south of Hill City, on US Highway 16/385 in the Black Hills of southwest South Dakota, is the entrance to the memorial. The memorial is open all year long and is located 17 miles south of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

4) Crazy Horse Monument’s Final Dimensions

The monument’s final dimensions are planned to be 563 feet high and 641 feet wide, while Crazy Horse’s head will be 87 feet tall, and each of the four US Presidents’ heads will be 60 feet high at Mount Rushmore.

5) The History Behind the Crazy Horse Monument

One of the most well-known Native American warriors was Crazy Horse, also named Tasunke Witco, who led the Sioux defence against white American settlers’ invasion of the northern Great Plains. Due to his battle prowess and involvement in some good engagements, such as the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, Crazy Horse was highly regarded by both his opponents and his people.

A Ponca chief named Standing Bear learned in 1933 that Fort Robinson, Nebraska, would house a memorial remembering his biological cousin Crazy Horse. He was in charge of the project for which the Crazy Horse Memorial Association, which was created by him and countless other Lakota chiefs, was currently lobbying for the carving of Crazy Horse in the renowned Black Hills. However, they thought that was the only place that would work for such a monument. James Cook received a letter from Standing Bear explaining.

Standing Bear advocated for constructing a Native American memorial that would rival the size and scope of the neighbouring Mount Rushmore to his folks in the Black Hills. Korczak Ziókowski, the artist behind Mount Rushmore, was eventually located by Standing Bear.

The image sculpted of Crazy Horse was based on the description of him offered by survivors of the Little Bighorn Battle and others of his contemporaries. During the dedication ceremony, Standing Bear declared that the memorial would foster cross-cultural understanding and help mend fences between non-Native and Native Americans.

6) The Crazy Horse Monument Possesses the Following Sights

In addition to the sights above, the memorial complex has a visitor centre, two theatres where orientation DVDs are shown, and a center for education and conferences. Additionally, a home where a sculptor worked in a log cabin, outdoor and indoor galleries, a restaurant, snack bars, a bronze showroom, and gift shops. And a veranda where visitors can see the sculpture being made.

7) The Mineral Components of The Crazy Horse Monument’s Mountain

crazy horse monument
Photo by Lauren Lopes on Unsplash/ Copyright 2022

One of the oldest geological formations on the planet, the Black Hills, is used to carve the Crazy Horse Memorial. Pegmatite granite comprises each mineral, rock, and gemstone found on the Mountain.

  1. Tourmaline:

A collection of many closely related minerals that are all black in colour.

  1. Iron (Oxidized):

Rust is the other name for a chemical made of iron and oxygen.

  1. Garnet:

A collection of minerals that together create a crimson gemstone.

  1. Feldspar: 

60% of the Earth’s crust is made up of a collection of rock minerals that are often pink or white in colour and chalky in texture.

  1. Quartz: 

A fairly widespread mineral that can be found in almost all mineral settings.

  1. Mica (Muscovite):

A collection of minerals that are well renowned for their shine, glitter, and sparkle and that form thin translucent layers. Slate and granite rocks are common places to find them.

  1. Beryl:

A mineral mixture that contains many gemstones, including emeralds. The beryl on the mountain is a particular shade of greenish yellow.

  1. (Fool’s Gold) Pyrite:

A mineral that is brass-yellow and has a metallic sheen.

8) Summertime Brings Light to It

The Legends in Light laser show animates the Crazy Horse Memorial every evening from late May to late September. The sculpture is transformed into an enormous granite screen that describes the culture, history, and sacrifices of Native Americans as bright lights from three of the massive projectors in the world dance across the mountainside.

Make arrangements to visit the Crazy Horse Monument at one of the yearly night blasts if fireballs and other pyrotechnic displays are more your things. Each bomb has a specific significance. The June night explosion honours Ruth’s birthday and the Little Big Horn at the same time. The second night explosion marks Crazy Horse’s life on the occasion of his passing while commemorating Korczak’s birthday in early September.

9) The Memorial Is Divided Into Three Sections

The Indian Museum of North America, the Crazy Horse Memorial Mountain carving, and the Native American Cultural Center comprise the memorial.

10) It Pays Tribute to A Sioux Chief

Tasunke Witco stands out from the Lakota people due to his pale skin and wavy brown hair. The talented warrior adopted the moniker Crazy Horse and employed his well-honed abilities to repel European Americans from establishing farms and dwellings on his ancestral territory, endangering the way of life of his people. From the Fetterman Massacre until the Battle of Little Bighorn, Crazy Horse was probably in charge of any successful surprise attack that embarrassed the American soldiers.

11) The Mission of The Crazy Horse Monument

crazy horse monument
Image by Mike from Pixabay/Copyright 2019

The protection and preservation of North American Indian culture, customs, and living heritage is the goal of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. The Foundation shows its dedication to this project by continuing work on the Crazy Horse Memorial, the world’s largest sculpture project, by offering educational and cultural programming through the native American academic, the Indian museum of north America and cultural centre, serving as a repository for American Indian artifacts, crafts, and by establishing and running the Indian university of north AM.

12) It Is Being Constructed Without Federal Funding

Ziolkowski insisted that the Crazy Horse Monument be erected by the people, not the government, from the moment he first envisioned it. He carved the monument without payment for more than 35 years due to his generosity of time and talent. Instead, then accepting support from the federal government, he relied on admission prices and kind contributions from patrons, community groups, and private companies.

By taking a journey up the mountain and visiting the Lakota chief in person, visitors who make specified charity contributions to the monument can have an unforgettable experience with the carving.

13) The Memorial Was Created Based on The Eyewitness of A Native American- Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse gained notoriety for leading an army of Native Americans to victory at the Little Bighorn in 1876 over the US forces. As someone renowned for his humility, some have speculated that perhaps he would have preferred to have a duplicate the size of a rock.

14) A Self-Taught Sculptor Created the Crazy Horse Monument

Two Minutes of your time, Crazy Horse Mountain Carving 2021

Korczak Ziolkowski was reared by foster families who primarily used him as free labour because he was orphaned as a child and was nurtured in an orphanage. Korczak was mainly schooled through the school of hard knocks, even though he graduated from Rindge Technical School. As a teenager, he worked in the heavy construction sector before starting as an apprentice carpenter in Boston’s shipyards. Outside the workplace, Ziolkowski learned the Old Masters and used plaster and clay to practice his self-taught design talents.

Ziolkowski was asked to devote the summer of 1939 to collaborating with Gutzon Borglum as he sculpted the president on Mount Rushmore after his marble sculpture took first place at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. But when Ziolkowski disagreed with Borglum’s son and quit the project, his practical expertise in carving mountains was limited to over three weeks.

15) The Crazy Horse Monument Was Ziolkowski’s Life’s Work

The gifted World War II veteran, who landed on the beaches of Normandy with 156,000 other valiant Greatest Generation soldiers, was much sought after to design war memorials around Europe. Still, Ziolkowski devoted the remainder of his existence to the Crazy Horse Memorial.

Ziolkowski’s first wife left him due to his obsession with the project, which devoured him. Ten children were born to them, and seven contributed to the massive endeavor. Always forthright about his attention to the sculpture, Ziolkowski. He informed his wife that his children would always come first, and he would always put her second. In addition, he advised his kids not to bother coming back if they had already left.

16) Just One Aspect of Ziolkowski’s Dream Is the Memorial

Crazy Horse Memorial bigger than Mount Rushmore

Ziolkowski’s dream had two other elements besides the magnificent sculpture of Chief Crazy Horse on the Mountain. The Indian Museum of North America is one example.

The museum, which is a part of the Crazy Horse Tourist Center and offers unrestricted views of the granite creation that Ziolkowski started in 1948, exhibits works of art and relics from more than 300 Native American tribes.

A medical practice facility for Native Americans and the Indian University of North America make up the final two pillars of Ziolkowski’s three-pronged ambition.

17) Other Famous Carvings by Ziolkowski from The Stone

Ziolkowski honed his art before dedicating the remainder of his life to creating the monumental Chief Crazy Horse Memorial by creating the likenesses of other well-known Americans such as President John F. Kennedy, Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear, and McDonald’s legend Ray Kroc out of stone.

18) It Is a Family Matter

In South Dakota, it has been 70 years since a single man, and later his family started carving the renowned Native American sculpture Crazy Horse into a granite mountain.

The New Yorker examined the lengthy sculpture-making process and debates surrounding the memorial in September. Some claim that rather than focusing on the Native Americans the project is meant to honour, Korczak Ziolkowski and his family, who have dedicated their lives to the sculpture, have come to dominate the project’s creation.

Nearing his 40th birthday, Ziolkowski relocated to the Black Hills to start the Crazy Horse Memorial. The mountain sculptor was accompanied by a young volunteer called Ruth Ross, and their union resulted in the birth of 10 children, five males, and five daughters. Even though seven of their ten children and some of their grandchildren are still committed to Korczak’s mission, Ruth and Korczak both passed away.

Ziolkowski spent his entire life constructing the granite face, but he never lived to see it completed. He estimated it would require 30 years. Even after 71 years, it is still far from complete.

19) The Crazy Horse Memorial Anticipated Finishing Date

The artist projected that it would take 30 years to complete the project when construction began in 1948. The monument’s completion date was still being determined as of 2022, although it was projected that the hand, arm, hairline, and top of the horse’s head, and shoulder, would be done by 2037.

The Crazy Horse Memorial aims to honour the North American Indians’ culture, tradition, and ongoing legacy. When finished, the monument will be eight feet taller than the Washington Monument. However, witnessing history being made is accurate, and seeing the unfinished Crazy Horse is in itself a unique experience. However, the following are all the amazing facts about the crazy horse monument which you should know.

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  • Sakina M Saleh

    Sakina Saleh from India is a student pursuing her bachelor's, and she is a blog and article writer who believes in continuous progress, learning and dynamism.

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