Day 201 Mt Rushmore & Custer State Park
Oct 30, 2008
|Day 201 Thursday 30th October Mt Rushmore & Custer State Park pg 93 E3
We returned to Mt Rushmore National Monument this morning to get some photos of the sculpture with the sun shining on it. At the Grand Viewing area a photographic team was preparing to do a shoot of the latest Harley Davidson motorcycle using Mt Rushmore as the backdrop. There always seems to be lots of hangers on at this type of event. We didn’t stay to watch proceeding but rather took a walk closer to the base of the statues. To help us appreciate the event we hired a portable audio phone to get more details of the place. In fact had the each president been sculptured in full length they would have been the height of a 40 storey building. At the end of our walk we came across 4-5 while mountain goats grazing near the avenue of flags.
I am pleased to say that one of the mysteries of sculpture (how they got the faces in perspective) were revealed to us today. In this case, after creating a scaled model of the end product, Gutzon Borglum used a “pointing” machine (originally used by the ancient Greeks):- a metal shaft was placed upright at the centre of the models head. Attached to the base of the shaft was a protractor plate marked in degrees, and a horizontal ruled bar that pivoted to measure the angle from the central axis. A weighted plumbline from the bar, is slid back and forth to measure the distance from the central head point, and raised and lowered to measure the vertical distance from the top of the head. Thus, each point on the model received three measurements. These distances were transferred to the granite face via a large scale pointing mechanism anchored at the top of the mountain.
The museum and theatre also gave a good insight into the creation of the sculpture and the amount of work that went into the project. After 2½ hours we dragged ourselves away to have some morning tea and continue our site seeing of the of this majestic Black Hills area.
I’m sure glad Steve wrote all that technical stuff. Driving down from Mt Rushmore we headed along Iron Mountain Road to Custer State Park, which as the crow flies, doesn’t look too far away, it actually took us a while to get there. This didn’t concern us at all as the drive itself wound its way thru the forest with loads of switchbacks and spiralling bridges that almost turned back on themselves. This road also has 3 or 4 tunnels, mind you we checked very carefully prior to taking this route if we’d fit thru and it was not a problem (we did have to abandon another section due to the height of a tunnel being too low). Each of these tunnels has been strategically placed to frame views of Mt Rushmore in the distance when exiting the tunnel.
As we made our way thru the mountains we noticed the floor of the forest had been cleared of all undergrowth and stacked up in little triangle shaped piles. The forest department must have had a cast of thousands to cut and stack all this undergrowth. We have been told it’s is a fire prevention tactic, only time will tell. There was literally hundreds and hundreds of these piles.
Further down the road we came across another tourist venture which gave us the opportunity to seeing two wolves. The business was closed for the season, but the owner was happy to show off his two wolves, one was a Timber Wolf, he was dark grey/black in colour and the other was an Arctic Wolf and she was pure white in colour. They are kept in a special enclosure and this is the first time we have seen wolves up so close. They were 3 years old and the owner had reared them from only a week or so old, hand feeding them etc. You have to have special permits to keep such animals, and there are strict guide lines you must adhere to, i.e. they have to be check by a Vet every 90 days, they are fed every second day with 8lbs of raw meat per dog. This meat can be deer, antelope, beef, and turkey and chicken – anything almost except pork.
Prior to entering Custer State Park we were ambushed by a group of 6-8 donkey’s on the road. They were most inquisitive, stopping the traffic (well the car in front plus our RV) and approaching each vehicle trying to scam some food I guess before allowing us to pass. They did badly with both vehicles as no food was given.
Once inside Custer State Park we travelled around the Wildlife Loop Road and were well rewarded with many animal sightings. We saw several large herds of Bison (Buffalo) grazing right beside the road, we were only a few feet away and they weren’t at all worried about our presence. We saw loads of other wild life: a dozen or so Mule Deer with their big ears and their blackened face and tails, probably 30-40 antelope, some of which were sporting large antlers, wild turkeys and Prairie Dogs.
Tonite we are in a campground with the State Park, just us, 6 wild turkeys and 3 deer.