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 Travel/ Tourism - Crazy Horse


Chronology of Crazy Horse Memorial

A chronology of major events in the progress at Crazy Horse Memorial -- a nonprofit cultural and educational humanitarian project with three major goals: the mountain carving, the Indian Museum of North America, and the Indian University of North America and Medical Training Center for the North American Indian.


Crazy Horse 1987

Crazy Horse 1988

Crazy Horse 1991

Crazy Horse 1991









Crazy Horse 1993

Crazy Horse 1994

Crazy Horse 1996

Crazy Horse 1998






Crazy Horse Webcam

Crazy Horse Memorial webcam installed and maintained by South Dakota
Public Broadcasting.



    Boston-born Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski wins first prize for sculpture at the New York World's Fair with his marble portrait, "Paderewski: Study of an Immortal," prompting Lakota Indian Chiefs to invite him to carve Crazy Horse in the Black Hills of S. Dak. That summer he works briefly as assistant to Gutzon Borglum carving Mt. Rushmore Memorial in the Black Hills.


    Korczak visits the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in S. Dak. to meet Chief Henry Standing Bear. Learns much about Crazy Horse and makes clay model (with right arm outstretched).


    Korczak sculpts 13-1/2-foot Noah Webster Statue as gift to West Hartford, Conn. Ruth Ross is among student volunteers helping with the Noah Webster. The sculptor studies extensively about Crazy Horse and the Native American.


    Korczak volunteers, at age 34, for service in WWII (lands on Omaha Beach; suffers wounds later). At war's end, the sculptor decides to accept the Indians' invitation and turns down government commission to create war memorials in Europe.


    The Indians insist Crazy Horse be carved in their sacred Black Hills, and Standing Bear and Korczak locate the 600-foot monolith the sculptor names Thunderhead Mountain. He uses his own money to buy privately-owned land nearby. From stone off the Noah Webster Statue, Korczak sculpts the Tennessee marble Crazy Horse 1/300th scale model (left arm outstretched).


    Korczak arrives at Crazy Horse May 3rd. He is 38. Lives in a tent while building log studio-home. Decides to carve the entire 600-foot mt. in the round rather than just the top 100 feet, as originally planned.


    Memorial is dedicated June 3rd with first blast on the mountain. Special guests include five of the nine survivors of Battle of Little Big Horn. Korczak promises that Crazy Horse will be a nonprofit educational and cultural humanitarian project financed by the interested public and not with government tax money; he pledges never to take a salary at Crazy Horse. Korczak single-jacks four holes for the first blast, which takes off only 10 tons. He falls, suffering his first injury on the mountain. Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation formed Aug. 16th. Sculptor continues "pioneering"-building roads, sinking a well, creating a first lake, "finishing" the studio-home. That winter he builds 741-step staircase to mt. top (elevation: 6,740 feet above sea level). Volunteer Ruth Ross helps build staircase.


    97,000 tons blasted off (horizontal cut under horse's mane) as work begins on mt. Sculptor works alone with one small jackhammer powered by a gas compressor (the old Buda) at bottom of mt. Connecting pipeline runs 2,040 feet up and across mountain. Early mt. work is done under special use permit; then under a mining claim. Korczak has $174 left to his name. Continues improving studio-home for public. IRS makes Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation tax exempt on Nov. 28th.


    Works second summer on mt. (mane cut). Thanksgiving Day, marries Ruth Ross. First admission fee 50 cents per adult (after 1949 contributions averaged five cents per person visiting studio-home); sculptor establishes policy there will be no admission charge for Native Americans, military personnel in uniform, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in uniform or Custer County residents. Builds 32-foot addition to viewing veranda.


    Korczak paints outline of Crazy Horse on mt. Six-foot wide lines take 176 gallons of paint. During winter, from Crazy Horse granite Korczak carves 3,000-lb. "Wild Bill" Hickok statue as gift for Deadwood, S. Dak.


    Starts cut for Indian's 90-foot profile. "The bucket" aerial cable car (run by antique Chevy engine) working to haul equipment and tools to top of horse's head. Electric compressor now at base of mt. In winter Korczak carves 1/24th scale model of Crazy Horse's head from a 48-inch-diameter pine tree; also carves 1/1,200th Crazy Horse scale model (5inch miniature) from lemon wood.


    Sculptor continues work in front of Indian's face, blasting down to below nose. Korczak suffers a back injury when a cable snaps. Purchases first bulldozer. Sculptor turns down $10 million in potential federal funding. Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation acquires the mt. and 328 acres around it in a land exchange with federal government. Korczak builds modern milking parlor for Holstein dairy farm. Minnesota students present architectural model of the future of Crazy Horse. Admission to 75 cents per adult. From Crazy Horse granite, Korczak carves nearly seven-ton Sitting Bull Memorial.


    630,000 tons removed to date (down to Indian's chin). Korczak works all winter on first road up back of mt. to top. Moves Buda compressor to top (shorter airline gives more power). Now able to use wagon drill as well as jackhammer and jackleg.


    300,000 tons cleared from above arm. Constructs Avenue of the Chiefs (gravel) direct from Highway 16-385 port of entry to studio-home. (First rocky trail in was nicknamed "oil pan alley.") Builds and begins operating lumber mill.


    395,000 tons cleared from arm (1,325,000 tons to date). Sculptor has first "cat" working on top (much more rapid progress clearing arm). Danger increases. Korczak breaks right wrist and thumb.


    475,000 tons removed from above arm. Korczak again turns down $10 million in potential federal funding, Builds Sun Room, workshop, roof over visitor viewing porch, large garage and machine shop. Drills new well for studio home. Sculptor gives his mahogany portrait of Chief Standing Bear to President John F. Kennedy. Crazy Horse School opens, Korczak's first spinal operation (two lower discs removed).


    200,000 tons removed (2,000,000 to date). Finishes clearing above Indian's arm. Starts new road downward across horse's mane (to clear in front of tunnel to come later). Builds Theater #1.


    350,000 tons removed from horse's mane area. Builds four-story, 26ton scaffold on tracks in front of Crazy Horse's face. In winter Korczak creates 16-ton (1/34th scale) plaster model of Crazy Horse. Finishes writing poem to be carved in three-foot letters on mt. Drills 377-foot deep well. Modernizes public restrooms. Admission fee to $1 for those over 15. Korczak's second spinal operation (a third disc removed).


    450,000 tons removed from mane area and in front of Indian's chest (2,800,000 to date). Electricity to top of mt. and first electric compressor taken all the way up. Charles A. Morss Bridge built. Entrance, road and visitor parking lot blacktopped. Builds octagonal dining room. Korczak's third spinal operation (fourth and fifth discs removed).


    75,000 tons removed as tunneling into mt. Begins for what will be the start of the opening under the Indian's outstretched arm. Korczak has slight heart attack. U.S. Post Office opens at Crazy Horse April 1st with Ruth as Postmistress (for $1 a year). Charles Eder Indian collection and Ebell Egyptian (King "Tut") furnishings given to Crazy Horse.


    325,000 tons removed (3,200,000 to date). Tunnel under arm to day-light through the mt. Korczak purchases D-9 "Cat" (Zeus) and acquires new compressor, air trac, huge "Cat" drill-compressor, Eight of Korczak's marble works of sculpture vandalized at entrance to studio-home. Sculptor receives honorary Doctorate from Fairfield University, Conn, Korczak has massive heart attack,


    200,000 tons removed. Korczak enlarges tunnel and begins removing right end of 600-foot mt. in front of horse's head. Project is out of debt for first time. In winter Korczak begins his tomb about 500 yards from the base of the mountain.


    200,000 tons removed. Very dangerous bulldozing at top of horse's head. In winter sculptor and sons build Indian museum, new restrooms, additional water system, new well and drain field. Admission to $4 a car-load.


    200,000 tons removed. First 3 years work at top and in front of horse's head begins to change the silhouette of mt. against horizon. Museum dedicated May 30th. Korczak has worsening diabetes and arthritis.


    300,000 tons removed (4.100,000 to date). Work continues in front of horse's head. New road built on back of mt. Chief Luther Standing Bear and Sunflower Indian collections given to museum. Sculptor receives Trustee Award from National Western Heritage and Cowboy Hall of Fame. IRS reaffirms Crazy Horse Memorial tax exempt status.


    500,000 tons removed, blasting to about halfway down in front of horse's head. "Flying Cat Incident (bulldozer cartwheels 250 feet down the mt.). Korczak bulldozes with right foot in a cast after operation to remove a large spur and repair separated Achilles tendon. He builds 80-foot-long, 24-ton boom, hoist and metal platform/work cage for future work on horse's head.


    500,000 tons removed (5,100,000 to date). Reader's Digest U.S. bicentennial books ranks Crazy Horse "One of the seven wonders of the modern world." Expansion of visitor complex continues.


    600,000 tons removed. Heaviest blasting of the project. 100th anniversary of Crazy Horse's death Sept. 6th, Korczak's 69th birthday, Crazy Horse Centennial Blast Largest of the project) removes 40,000 tons at one time. 30th anniversary of Korczak's arrival at Crazy Horse May 3rd.


    500,000 tons removed (6,200,000 to date) June 3rd is 30th anniversary of dedication of the mt. Korczak celebrates his 70th birthday blasting and bulldozing--as usual. Korczak and Ruth launch Crazy Horse Memorial Indian Scholarship program as a "good faith gesture" toward the Memorial's long-range educational goals. Korczak's tomb nears completion.


    300,000 tons removed (6,500,00 to date). First cut into mt. toward horse's nose. Two new roads up back of mt. Fortieth anniversary of Standing Bear's invitation to Korczak to carve the mt. Two collections donated to Indian Museum. Concord Stagecoach (circa. 1856) acquired, Tashunka Witco Nature and Historical Hiking Trail mapped out (as a Boy Scout Eagle project).


    250,000 tons removed (6,750,000 to date). Further cutting into mt. toward horse's nose. Second D-9 Cat (Jupiter) acquired. Two new roads on back of mt. One week after his 72nd birthday in September Korczak has fourth back operation to remove a sixth consecutive disk, but he works on the mt. through the rare open winter. Also, he builds first phase of the Crazy Horse Village, sinks well #14 (206 ft,), designs new wing for Indian Museum, Designs and begins building 50-foot Nature Gates, hand cuts steel letters for the legend on the door of his tomb: KORCZAK-Storyteller in Stone--May His Remains Be Left Unknown. Tomb is consecrated on an April morning by Father William O'Conneil. Christopherson oil portrait of Korczak is unveiled. Logging operation resumed. Admission fee to $5 a CAR-load. Korczak and Ruth celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.


    450,000 tons removed (7,200,000 to date). Seventh million ton removed on May 3rd, the 34th anniversary of Korczak's arrival in the Black Hills. First road downward across scarf of mt. completed to under the horse's nose. Also, a new road on back of mt, Sculptor roughs-out horse's left eye and constructs 20-foot steel template for work on the eye. Visitation tops one million for first time. Korczak receives honorary doctorate from Black Hills State College for his humanitarian concept for Crazy Horse Memorial. Design for Chief Crazy Horse 13cent regular-issue U. S. postage stamp unveiled at Crazy Horse Sept. 6th, Korczak's 73rd birthday Black Hills Nature Gates set in place. Two major wells deepened (including original 1947 well). Logging and post operation continue.


    200,000 tons removed (7,400,000 to date) as work in front of horse's head continues. First Day of Issue Ceremony Jan. 15th in Indian Museum for Crazy Horse stamp, part of the Great Americans Series. CRAZY HORSE and KORCZAK· The Story of an Epic Mountain Carving by Robb DeWall published May 3rd, commemorating the 35th anniversary of Korczak's 1947 arrival in the Black Hills to begin the nonprofit, Crazy Horse humanitarian project. On July 24th Korczak under goes quadruple heart bypass operation. He spends his 74th birthday on September 6th supervising his sons and daughters painting a new outline of the horse's head on the mt. Second land exchange with federal government approved. 500 Order of the Arrow Boy Scouts camp around mt.

    October 20, 1982

    Korczak dies unexpectedly at the age of 74. His wife, Ruth, and all 10 of their sons and daughters are with him as he is laid to rest in the tomb he and his sons built near the mountain. Ruth and their large family express their dedication and determination to carry on his Crazy Horse dream according to his detailed plans. Tributes arrive from throughout the nation and many foreign countries. Korczak is eulogized as a man of "legends, dreams, visions and greatness" and Indian representatives proclaim that "two races of people have lost a great man."


    Korczak's Crazy Horse dream continues. Mrs. Ziolkowski assumes supervision of all activities on the mt. and off. 200,000 tons removed (7,600,000 to date) as over-all blocking out continues. Outline on mt, expanded. Pope John Paul II accepts a bronze of Crazy Horse 1/1,200th scale model mounted on granite from the mt. Legislature designates May 3rd annually as Korczak Day in S. D. Construction includes tripling size of parking lot, adding Theater #2, enlarging viewing verandah, and sinking well #15. A $60,000 check is left in contribution box.


    200,000 tons removed (7,800,000 to date). Comprehensive measurement on mt. in the round underway. Indian Museum tripled in size. Grass Roots Club launched. Crazy Horse U.S. stamp issue tops one BILLION. Viewing verandah greatly expanded. Laughing Water Restaurant, Arrowhead Lake built. Wells #17 and #18 drilled.


    Total rock removed reaches approximately 8,000,000 tons to date as comprehensive measurement and blocking-out continue on mt. carving. New 1,000 ft.-long road on mt. Construction begins on rock building at visitor complex. Five hundred Boy Scouts camp around mt.


    First annual Volksmarch up the mt. carving where new explosives engineering techniques are being used for areas nearer finish surface. Ahrlin Collection and the Harris Jewelry Collection donated to Indian Museum. Long-range program launched to cast Korczak's sculpture in bronze to benefit Crazy Horse. Visitor complex improvements include main lobby remodeling. Ruth Ziolkowski is 60 on June 26th.


    Measurement on Crazy Horse's head and face begins after board of directors of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation in October endorses Mrs. Ziolkowski's recommendation to shift priority on the mt. carving from the 22-story horse's head to Crazy Horse's nine-story face. May 3rd is 40th anniversary of Korczak's arrival in the Black Hills to accept Indians' invitation to carve Crazy Horse. Gifts to Indian Museum include Harris Navajo rug collection donated to Indian Museum. Two collections (5,000 volumes) donated to Crazy Horse Library. 1Oth anniversary of Scholarship Program. Plaster cast of Korczak's seven-ton "Sitting Bull Memorial" joins permanent collection at Crazy Horse.


    Blocking-out Crazy Horse's face begins, starting to remove the protective rock left by Korczak. Comprehensive measurement continues on the head and face. Weathered "Slow Man at Work" scaffold in front of face removed. Major new mt. road built. June 3rd S. D. Gov. George S. Mickelson and Ruth Ziolkowski set off Memorial's 40th anniversary blast; when he was seven years old, he had helped his father, Gov. George T. Mickelson, set off the first blast on Crazy Horse. US WEST Foundation pledges $50,000 over five years to Scholarship Program. First computer for development of computer assisted design (CAD) program to augment measurement on the mt. donated by Apple Computer, Inc.


    First detail work on the mountain begins at the top of Crazy Horse's forehead as the face continues to be blocked out three-dimensionally Pointing system in use for the first time. A 3,400-degree, super-sonic torch goes into use as a cutting and "finishing" tool. Lightning-caused fire July 29th destroys both electric compressors, compressor building and mt. equipment. Work continues with portable compressors. Eight lighting firms donate the first phase of a floodlight system for the mt., and publisher Malcolm Forbes on Aug. 11th officially illuminates the mt. for the first time. First night blast Sept. 6th. Rose collection donated to Indian Museum. Crazy Horse Library nears completion. Wells #19, #20, #21 drilled.


    Crazy Horse's forehead "rough finished" and right eye "opens." Detail work on Crazy Horse's face continues through first (1989-90) of a series of "open" winters. Eyebrows blocked-out, and work progresses roughing-out the nose. Two new electric compressors acquired for the mt., housed in new block building. Memorial hosts S.D.'s first Native American Day Oct. 8th, and Korczak and Ruth Ziolkowski receive Reconciliation Awards for their life-long dedication to the Crazy Horse Memorial humanitarian project. Modest increases during the last decade bring admission to $10 a carload.


    Crazy Horse "opens" both eyes on the Black Hills, and Crazy Horse's profile from forehead to chin is blocked out against the sky for the first time, About 17' of rock removed from in front of the chin and along about one-half the 263-foot length of the out-stretched arm. The mt. is blessed in four spiritual ceremonies by Lakota, Minataree and Shawnee leaders. A pipe believed used by Crazy Horse is donated to the Memorial. Lloyd Duggins of Mauckport, Indiana (who never visited Crazy Horse) bequeaths some $230,000, the largest gift to date to the Memorial. The final three light banks around the mt. are installed. First annual Crazy Horse Stampede (All-Indian Rodeo) and "A Gift from Mother Earth" arts and crafts festival. Steve and Molly Dancey Collection of historical photographs acquired. Ruth Ziolkowski is 65 on June 26th. For carrying on Korczak's Crazy Horse dream she is awarded an honorary doctorate from S.D. School of Mines & Technology.


    Crazy Horse's nose is two-thirds out in space; Ruth Ziolkowski makes a "conservative but realistic" projection that the face of Crazy Horse will be finished by the year 2000. Detail work begins on the right eyelid; thinning the face continues in cheek and jaw areas. Progress speeded by a third consecutive "open" winter (1991-92). Year-long project to remove 17' of rock from above the arm is completed (with a 2,000-ton blast on Ruth's 66th birthday). Major new road up mt. Memorial observes the 150th anniversary of the 1842 (?) birth of Crazy Horse and the 10th anniversary of the death of Korczak, Benefit concert Oct. 20th by tenor White Eagle and pianist David Strickland commemorates the dual anniversaries. Parking lot expanded.


    Crazy Horse's eyelids are carved, the eyebrows are shaped, most of last rock beneath the nose is removed, and the first rough cut is made for the lips. Rock removal also continues from Crazy Horse's chest, the horse's mane and along the out-stretched arm. Fourth consecutive mild winter (1992-93). First maintenance shop built on mt. S. D. Gov. Walter Dale Miller sets off June 3rd blast marking 45th anniversary of dedication of the Memorial. Scholarship program observes 15th anniversary ($133,550 distributed to 864 Native American students mostly from the nine S. D. reservations). US WEST Foundation donates $50,000 for planned Native American Educational and Cultural Center (rock building). Multi-phase water improvement project continues. Admission is $15 a carload. At White House President Bill Clinton accepts bronzes of Korczak's "John E Kennedy" and "Crazy Horse" 1/1,200th scale model.


    Both nose lobes defined and tip of nose rounded; upper half of both cheeks cut and "polished;" eyebrows carved. Mild winter 1993-94. Fiberglass cast of Crazy Horse 1/34th scale model created to facilitate computer imaging programs for mt. measuring. Six original oil paintings by Frank McCarthy and many prints gifted to the Memorial by Tom and Jean Doherty of Connecticut and their family. Authorized by the S. D. legislature, a larger-than-life size bronze of Korczak's "Fighting Stallions" is unveiled April 19th on state capitol grounds in Pierre, S. D. as a memorial to eight air crash victims including Gov. George S. Mickelson.


    Crazy Horse's face is two-thirds finished; face completion date is advanced two years to June 3, 1998, the Memorial's 50th anniversary. Nose and cheek bone areas completed during another mild winter (1994-95); work progresses downward on face. Roof built on Native American Educational and Cultural Center. 10th anniversary Volksmarch draws 10,511 hikers. 150,000-gallon reservoir built. Admission remains $15 a carload.


    Crazy Horse's mouth is blocked out (after two years of work on the lips); much of the left cheek is cut and smoothed to the jaw line. Native American Educational and Cultural Center dedicated on Native American Day Oct. 14th, Joe Day Collection bequeathed to Indian Museum. Edward Curtis print collection donated by Bill Turner. First college extension course offered at the Memorial. 50th anniversary of Standing Bear and Korczak picking out the mt. Blasting supervisor (1987-1996) Paul Muehl dies after a long illness. Ruth Ziolkowski's 70th birthday includes a 70-fireball tribute on the mt. Larger-than-life-size "Fighting Stallions" bronze donated to Memorial.


    50th anniversary of Korczak's May 3, 1947 arrival in the Black Hills to accept the Indians' invitation to carve Crazy Horse Memorial. Ongoing detail work on Crazy Horse's head and face and continued rock removal from other areas of the mt, carving in the round. Continued growth of the educational and cultural aspects of the Memorial. At a Vatican audience Pope John Paul II accepts a bronze of Korczak's "Paderewski: Study of an Immortal."


    Dedication of the face of Crazy Horse (just the face portion of the colossal mt. carving) on June 3, 1998, the 50th anniversary of the first blast on the mt. and the June 3, 1948 dedication of Crazy Horse Memorial. (Due to uncertainties of weather and financing it is not possible to predict when the over-all mt. carving might be completed in the round.)


    Blasting begins to create a series of horizontal benches (access roads) to the 219 foot horse's head; newly acquired heavy equipment speeds drilling. 60th anniversary of Standing Bear's invitation to Korczak to carve Crazy Horse. U.S. President Bill Clinton visits July 6th. Ground breaking for the new 40,000 sq. ft. Orientation and Communications Center and New Lakota Wing for the Indian Museum of North America. Phase One of Avenue of the Chiefs widening completed (including removal of entrance bridge).


    Rock removal begins at top of horse's head and first bench completed around top of head. Orientation Center and Lakota Wing dedicated June 7th. Phase Two of Avenue of the Chiefs widening completed (including parking lot). Scholarship Program cumulative total tops $300,000. 50th anniversary of marriage of Korczak and Ruth Ziolkowski. Seven of their sons and daughters continue working with their mother continuing the project. U.S. Senate unanimously recommends creation of a U.S. commemorative stamp honoring Korczak and Crazy Horse Memorial.


    Progress continues on the network of access roads around the horse's head. Completion work underway on lower level of Orientation and Communications Center (to be used for educational purposes and to house the Crazy Horse Research Library). Gifts of artifacts and art continue for the growing Indian Museum collection.

    Being continued -- Ever Growing...



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