Top

Stay in the loop!

Want to know when we share big things? Subscribe today & keep up-to-date with our posts.


In History: First Blast On Crazy Horse Memorial, June 3, 1948

One year and one month after sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski moved from Connecticut to the Black Hills at the invitation of Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear, the first blast was made on Thunderhead Mountain outside the town of Custer. 

Ziolkowski had gained national acclaim after his sculpture earned first prize at the 1939 World's Fair and after he worked for Gutzon Borglum in carving Mount Rushmore. 

Standing Bear, educated in Pennsylvania, had been on a years-long quest to find a sculptor to carve a memorial to his cousin and Lakota leader, Crazy Horse. He said: "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes also."

At age 39, Ziolkowski took the challenge and dedicated the rest of his life to the project. The pose of the Lakota warrior astride a horse with his arm out-stretched is intended to reflect Crazy Horse's statement: "My lands are where my dead lie buried." The sculpture, when finished, is planned to be 563 feet tall.

The sculptor worked until his death at age 74 on Oct. 20, 1982. His widow, Ruth, and many of the couple's 10 children continued work on the sculpture, shifting efforts to complete the face. The face was completed and dedicated in 1998. It is 87 feet tall compared to the faces on Mount Rushmore at 60 feet.

Ruth Ziolkowski died May 21, 2014, and work continues on the memorial headed by a three-person executive committee and a board of directors. The sculpture is intended to be the center of a complex that includes Indian University of North America and Medical Training Center, the Indian Museum of North America, the Native American Educational and Cultural Center and recreational facilities.

Meet the Author

Black Hills Knowledge Network

The Black Hills Knowledge Network is an online community information service that connects people to local information and ideas within the Black Hills region. We work with librarians and community organizations to aggregate and organize local news, resources, data and historical archives from a variety of sources. We seek to engage citizens and educate community leaders regarding the value of local information for decision-making, with the goal of enhancing the quality of life in our communities.

latest blog posts

Black Hills Knowledge Network
Guest Blogger

The Black Hills Knowledge Network is an online community information service that connects people to local information and ideas within the Black Hills region. We work with librarians and community organizations to aggregate and organize local news, resources, data and historical archives from a variety of sources. We seek to engage citizens and educate community leaders regarding the value of local information for decision-making, with the goal of enhancing the quality of life in our communities.

View More

Latest Blog Post

  • In The Spirit Of The Season: The Story Of Devils Tower National Monument
    October 10, 2017 - Amanda Hitchcock
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Rapid City's Wildside
    October 5, 2017 - Adrian Munoz
  • Latest Blog Post

  • 5 Reasons Meeting Planners Love Rapid City
    October 2, 2017 - Tyson
  • Agriculture > Economic Development > Big Things For Your Meeting
    September 29, 2017 - Tyson
  • Rapid City Offers Big Opportunities For Education
    September 29, 2017 - Tyson
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Wildlife Loop Road: A Wild Drive Through Custer State Park
    September 29, 2017 - Anne
  • 6 Pro Tips To Get You Through The Annual Buffalo Roundup
    September 1, 2017 - Anne
  • Rapid City Hidden Gems That Will Blow Your Mind
    July 27, 2017 - Anne
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Add Some Color to Your Life
    September 14, 2017 - Shiloh
  • Top Event for Lovers of All Things Pumpkin
    July 20, 2017 - Shiloh
  • Outdoor Campus West: Free Family Fun!
    June 2, 2016 - Shiloh
  • Latest Blog Post

  • How To Get The Most Out Of A Black Hills Adventure
    August 17, 2017 - Chris Brinlee Jr.
  • 10 Must-Do Adventures in Rapid City
    August 1, 2017 - Chris Brinlee Jr.
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Rapid City - Reptile Gardens, Bear Country USA, Watiki Water Park, Outdoor Campus West
    July 7, 2017 - Heather & Pete Reese
  • Rapid City South Dakota - We Made It!
    July 6, 2017 - Heather & Pete Reese
  • Custer State Park Jeep Tour, Chuckwagon, Buffalo, Antelope!
    July 6, 2017 - Heather & Pete Reese
  • Latest Blog Post

  • In History: First Blast On Crazy Horse Memorial, June 3, 1948
    June 15, 2017 - Black Hills Knowledge Network
  • IN HISTORY: 1st Custer State Park Buffalo Auction, Feb. 12, 1966
    February 3, 2017 - Black Hills Knowledge Network
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Beginners Guide: Being A Tourist In Your Backyard
    June 2, 2017 - Tessa
  • Latest Blog Post

  • The Most Exciting Social Event Of The Summer
    May 25, 2017 - Jennifer
  • Rapid City: A Prehistoric Destination
    April 27, 2017 - Jennifer
  • Top 5 Spring Break Ideas for Cool Moms
    January 5, 2017 - Jennifer
  • Latest Blog Post

  • The adventure of a lifetime in Rapid City
    March 20, 2017 - Ellen and Mike
  • Latest Blog Post

  • An Oz Experience: Flying With The Oldest Balloon Company In The USA
    February 7, 2017 - Danielle
  • 3 Firehouse Brewing Co. Food Choices and Reasons for All of Them
    January 13, 2017 - Danielle
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Basil, Tomatoes, Olive Oil, Wine…Just A Few Of My Favs
    January 27, 2017 - Stacie
  • 1,200 Degrees of Taste Bud Paradise
    January 15, 2017 - Stacie
  • Latest Blog Post

  • A Black Hills Winter
    December 23, 2016 - Jesse
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Travelin with Tiff: Rush Mountain Adventure Park
    December 13, 2016 - Tiffany
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Rapid City Blog: Trail System
    November 14, 2016 - Aiden Lynn-Klimenko & Madison Perrins
  • Rapid City Blog: Spearfish Canyon
    September 25, 2016 - Aiden Lynn-Klimenko & Madison Perrins
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Black Hills Powwow: A Kaleidoscope of Color
    October 30, 2016 - Kris Monroe
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Rapid City from Michaela’s point of view.
    October 17, 2016 - Michaela
  • Mount Rushmore Questions You’ve Been Dying to Ask
    August 7, 2016 - Michaela
  • Top 5 Trails Within 30 Minutes of Rapid City
    January 15, 2016 - Michaela
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Microbreweries
    September 4, 2016 - Stephen Sebestyen
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Downtown Trails and Recreation
    July 5, 2016 - Lisa
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Four Ways Rapid City Lives Up To The Hype
    June 23, 2016 - Ginny
  • The Mount Rushmore of Summer Vacations
    May 6, 2016 - Ginny
  • 6 for Summer '16
    April 22, 2016 - Ginny
  • Latest Blog Post

  • 3 Mountain Bike Rides to Jump Start Your Black Hills Adventures
    May 20, 2016 - Craig
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Shredding in the Black Hills
    March 10, 2016 - Bill
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Downtown Shopping
    February 25, 2016 - Sarah
  • Rapid City Myth Busting
    February 8, 2016 - Sarah
  • My Favorite Parks and Monuments
    January 29, 2016 - Sarah