Make it Monumental

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About 10 miles south of Keystone, on the northern edge of Custer State Park, there’s a magical place that for 70 years has been a nighttime gathering place for summer visitors, Black Hills locals and aspiring young actors.

Crazy Horse Memorial, less than 20 miles from Keystone, was recently featured in a very nice CNN report about the mountain carving. We have a great deal of respect for sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and his life-long effort the create a monument to the Lakota leader. Ruth Ziolkowski kept his dream alive, and his children continue their work.

 

You have to envy the young folks who grew up in and around Keystone. The rest of us so-called flatlanders cooled off in reservoirs, rivers, stockponds, lakes (if we were lucky) and city swimming pools. But for as long as anyone can remember, kids in Keystone and the Black Hills have whiled away summer afternoons at Hippy Hole, Devil's Bathtub and other-off-the-map cool spots.

But if you know how to find them, you too can take the plunge. They're not exclusive. Just not well-known. Hippy Hole is a few miles east of Keystone on Battle Creek. There's a big pond, fed by a tranquil waterfall and flanked by rocky crags. (Be careful if you're thinking of cliff diving. It's a long hobble to medical attention if slip or miscalculate.)

To get to Hippy Hole, you'll need to do some hiking. It's not one of those paved-parking, stay-ont-the trail kinds of places. Ask anyone in Keystone, and they'll give you directiorns.

There are few things more American than Mount Rushmore National Memorial. That’s why a number of newly naturalized American citizens choose the monument as a backdrop as they take the Oath of Allegiance to their new home.

Last week, 184 new citizens took the Oath of Allegiance during a ceremony attended by more than 700 people. There was a great story about the ceremony in the Rapid City Journal. The new citizens were from 49 countries. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken presided over the ceremony.

Tourists who happened to be visiting the Shrine of Democracy got a bonus. As “God Bless America” played on the sound system, new citizens crossed the stage. Perhaps they, too, left with a deeper understanding of what it means to be an American.

The Black Hills are named because they appear as a dark horizon when seen from the surrounding prairies. But they are actually green. And this spring, the Black Hills are incredibly green. Coming out of winter, it seemed we were headed for a dry summer. But in May, it started raining. ... And raining.