Since the last post (in Colorado) we traveled through Nebraska and stopped to visit the Scotts Bluff National Monument. See pics in gallery. It was cool to see part of the original Oregon trail and learn bit about the history of the area. What brave people making that trip!
Next we went to Mt Rushmore in South Dakota (see pics in gallery). This is by far the most impressive sight we’ve ever seen. We were wowed! We were privileged to meet the last surviving sculptor who worked on the monument. He told us about the tools they used and a bit of the history of the site. It took 14 years and 400 men to carve the mountain, although only 127 were actually working up on the mountain. The rest were support crew below. Despite harsh and dangerous conditions, no one died during the project. Each of the faces on Mt Rushmore are 60 feet tall, and the eyeballs are 6 feet tall and 11 feet wide. Thomas Jefferson’s face was originally started on the opposite side of George Washington, but 18 months into the carving, they realized the granite was too weak. His face was dynamited off and carved on the other side. It was fascinating.
We also visited the Crazy Horse monument which is near Mount Rushmore. Don’t waste your money. It’s an Indian sculpture of Chief Crazy Horse which is not done — it’s taken them 60 years to get where they are now. It’s privately funded and cost us $22 to get in. The museum has some interesting indian history, but not much on Crazy Horse. That was odd. If you want a close up view of the monument, it costs another $4 per person to ride the bus a little closer. We skipped that.
From there we spent a day in Deadwood, the city where “Wild Bill” Hickok was shot and killed. It was a neat little town that was celebrating the start of “Wild Bill Hickok Days” with street fairs and concerts. Fun time.
A big trip highlight was visiting the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Sight in North Dakota. Did you know we are capable of firing a nuclear Missile and hitting Russia in 30 min? Lots of interesting things there! (see previous post).
We traveled into Minnesota and took a paddleboat ride down the St Croix river in Taylors Falls, Minnesota. Really fun. The St Croix river was named for a large naturally occurring cross that appears in the wall of the surrounding rock. From the right angle, the cross was easily visible. The river separates Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Then… The all-exciting visit to Mall of America in Bloomington, MN (practically Minneapolis). Wow is all I can say! Three stories of shops with an amusement park in the center. Quite a destination.
We love Presidential Libraries. In recent years we’ve visited the Nixon and Reagan Libraries in California. As we traveled through Iowa, we made sure to stop at the Herbert Hoover Library in West Branch. It wasn’t that elaborate but full of history. During the Hoover Presidency, the democrats hired a former political journalist named Charles Michelson to relentlessly attack Hoover. Michelson wrote speeches for various democrat politicians (including FDR), and the democrats would hammer Hoover with unfounded charges and smears — whatever Michelson could think up. Under the direction of the Democrat National Committee, Michelson continued to smear Hoover even after his defeat in 1932 because FDR feared Hoover could come back and win re-election. This set up a long and bitter feud between Hoover and Roosevelt. Hoover went on to continue his work with children, and was appointed by Harry S Truman to travel throughout the world to help feed impoverished children.
The next day we traveled to Kansas City, Missouri to check out the Truman Library (which is actually in Independence, Missouri). It was the first presidential library constructed under the Presidential Libraries Act of 1955. Although quite elaborate, it seemed a bit like he was all about promoting himself. After leaving the White House, unlike Hoover, he did nothing but oversee the Library being built and interact with visitors. He showed up every day. This library was fascinating with all the history about WWII and the Korean War, General MacArthur and so much more. Truman left office with only a 30% approval rate.
We are currently in Branson, Missouri having a whole lot of fun! The Midwest is so patriotic! Flags everywhere. Beautiful sight!
Love this country!