Tourist Sights Crazy Horse Sculpture in Custer South Dakota

About the unique tourist sight the Crazy Horse Sculpture in Custer, South Dakota, location, history, and description of the site.



Sight: The Crazy Horse Sculpture.

Qualitatively, it remains to be seen whether Korczak Ziolkowski's nude sculpture of Sioux Chief Crazy Horse will surpass the Winged Victory, the Venus de Milo, or Rodin's Gates of Hell. But quantitatively, Ziolkowski's work promises to dwarf Mt. Rushmore.

About 30 years ago, the ambitious sculptor, who worked with Gutzon Borglum on the Rushmore monument, picked out Thunderhead Mountain in South Dakota as a suitable piece of granite to carve, and after some complicated dealings with the federal government, he managed to purchase the site. Working with only a jeep, a jackhammer, and a crowbar, he began roughing out the contours of his masterpiece. Then, about 12 years ago, Ziolkowski raised enough money to buy a bulldozer with a 15-ft. blade which has greatly facilitated work on the sculpture.

Thus far, visitors have to use their imagination to see the enormous profile of a mounted Indian chief facing westward across the Black Hills, but when the sculpture is completed, it will be hard to miss. The monument will measure 641 ft. in length and 563 ft. from top to bottom. A house could fit in the horse's left nostril, and 4,000 people could stand on the chief's arm. Tourists are already beginning to flock in for a sneak preview, and Ziolkowski is ready for them. He has constructed a 1,000-car parking lot, plus a few conveniences such as a post office, a museum, hot dog and souvenir stands, and an observation terrace, where a 20-ft., 16-ton model of the Crazy Horse monument is on display.

If work continues at its present rate, the sculptor should be putting the finishing touch on the chief in about 20 years.

Location: Ziolkowski is carving his magnum opus into the top of Thunderhead Mountain, 5 mi. north of Custer, S.D.

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