We had done a little reading prior to arriving in the Black Hills. We learned about Doane Robinson, the man who first dreamed of a sculpture as big as mountain in the Black Hills. He commissioned Gutzon Borglum, who had previously done a mountain sculpture on Stone Mountain in Georgia of Civil War heroes. They rode through the hills on horseback looking for the ideal spot along with Gutzon's son, Lincoln Borglum, who was only in his early teens at the time. They dreamed about who to commemorate in the memorial. They climbed and repelled the hills and mountain peaks in search of the perfect place. They began work. They made models. They blasted the hills with dinomite and jack hammers. They slowed and even stopped work to await more funding, admist the Great Depression. Gutzon himself passed away prior to the completion of the memorial, but his son, then in his 30s, completed the project.
The kids were particularly taken with the variety of quartz in the shalestone, collecting stones along the trail.
Plaquards along the memorial helped us to see what it was that made Gutzon, the son of Dutch immigrants, so passionate about the subjects of his memorial.