Marvelous Mount Rushmore and the Badlands of SD

Trip Start Jun 04, 2010
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Trip End Sep 08, 2010


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Flag of United States  , South Dakota
Wednesday, September 1, 2010


We started out this morning around 7am expecting to get to Mount Rushmore around noon-ish. LOL! We didn't get there until a after 3pm.  Boy, did we have a great day. We crossed over the Wide Missouri River this morning.  After an hour drive we stopped for breakfast at Al's Oasis.  Nestled along the Missouri River in Oacoma, SD, Al's Oasis has historically been the premier resting stop for travelers along Interstate 90.  Al's Oasis, still a family run business, prides itself on making a fun, convenient, and relaxing stop

In the early 1950’s, when new highway 16 was proposed, Alfred and Veda Mueller moved the family to its present site. It was a small grocery store with a ten stool lunch counter. There, Veda baked apple pies and fried hamburgers that shoppers and traveling public enjoyed with their 5 coffee . . .


Business prospered and eventually the store was enlarged, adding clothing and other items in demand by the many travelers on their way to the Black Hills. The lunch counter grew from ten stools into a full scale restaurant where customers enjoyed not only sandwiches and pie but steaks and prime rib.

Over the years, the business has grown and has been enlarged several times. The ten thousand square foot restaurant, bar and warehouse was completed in May of 1989. The restaurant now serves approximately 350,000 orders per year, 50,000 pieces of pie and beef from over 1,000 cattle. Although Highway 16 gave way to Interstate 90, travelers have continued to stop at Al’s Oasis . . . the coffee is still 5. In 2003 a 17,000 square foot supermarket, gift shop & clothing expansion was completed.

If you look at the picture of the receipt you will see that we still only paid five cents for a cup of coffee.  The rest of the meals were a bit over priced but the food was prepared quickly and it was good. 

After breakfast we continued to head West on I-90.  While passing through Murdo, SD there was a sign pointing to 'South Dakota’s Original 1880 Town.’  A foot note added "Dances with The Wolves" was filmed here.  There were a lot of memorabilia left behind from the filming and the management of 1880 Town has it all on display with other items from the past. We walk down Main Street of this 94 acres of 1880 town and explored more than 30 buildings authentically furnished with thousands of relics. While we enjoyed strolling the terrain of a sprawling homestead we could envision life on the prairie. We also viewed memorabilia from the late Casey Tibbs, a champion rodeo bronc rider.

After getting back to our car we took a loop through the Badlands of South Dakota.  This 39 mile drive took us along winding roads through the rugged beauty of the Badland’s amazing windswept hills carved by Mother Nature. These geologic deposits contain one of the world's richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park's 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, deer, pronghorn, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today.  At the end of the loop we ended up in Wall, SD.  It was a quaint town with a hugh Wall Drug Store.  It was so crowded we decided to grab lunch at a small diner across the street.  We also stopped in a Black Hills Gold shop.  I bought a beautiful Black Hills gold and sterling silver ring with a Fire Topaz in the center. 

Finally we were headed for one of the main destinations of our trip.  Mount Rushmore. 

"The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt."  

                        Gutzon Borglum 

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota.  Sculpted by Gutzon Borglum and later by his son Lincoln Borglum, Mount Rushmore features 60-foot sculptures of the heads of former presidents (in order from left to right) George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The entire memorial covers 1,278.45 acres and is 5,725 feet above sea level.

South Dakota historian Doane Robinson is the man who is credited with conceiving the idea of carving the likenesses of famous people into the Black Hills region of South Dakota in order to promote tourism in the region. Robinson's initial idea was to sculpt the Needles; however, Gutzon Borglum rejected the Needles site and chose the larger Mount Rushmore. Borglum also decided the sculpture should have a more national focus, and chose the four presidents whose likenesses would be carved into the mountain. After securing federal funding, construction on the memorial began in 1927, and the presidents' faces were completed between 1934 and 1939. Upon Gutzon Borglum's death in March 1941, his son Lincoln Borglum took over construction. Though the initial concept called for each president to be depicted from head to waist, lack of funding forced construction to end in October 1941.

The U.S. National Park Service took control of the memorial in 1933, while it was still under construction, and manages the memorial to the present day. It attracts approximately two million people annually.

Did You Know?
Did you know that the figure of Thomas Jefferson was started on Washington's right? after 18 months of carving the figure of Jefferson had to be dynamited off the mountain and restarted on the left of Washington.

Time has come for us to find a place to spend the night.  Closest Motel 6 was only 8 miles away.  We checked in and then went to the Flying T Chuckwagon Supper & Show which was only a few miles from Mount Rushmore.  We choose this chuckwagon show over another because this one started at 6:30pm instead of 8PM.

Looked like a lot of the local folks go for the home cookin' and the real deal in western music and family fun.  Dinner Bell (triangle) rings at 6:30 pm sharp with a 'Come and get it" shouted!  We enjoyed some Tender BBQ Beef and Buffalo served with a Baked Potato, Cowboy Beans, Applesauce, Fresh Biscuits w/Honey and spice cake for Dessert.  Our meals were served on authentic tin plates which we picked up in a chow line. Quenched our thirst with unlimited Lemonade in a tin cup.  After supper, the Flying T Wranglers entertained us with their western music show in an authentic show barn.  They played Country Western greats like 'Ghost riders in the Sky’ and ‘Happy trails’ as well as a couple of Bluegrass and a Gospel song.  They were great entertainers and made the end of our day end on a perfect note!

God bless all the Presidents of our great land, everyone who entertains with love in their hearts and all my friends and readers.  Hope I don’t bore you will all the pictures.
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