This beautiful replica of the Borgund stavkirke was built in 1969. The original structure is the most completely preserved stave church still standing in Norway. While we were there, the outdoor area was being set for a wedding later in the day. This is a breath-taking, peaceful place to visit.
Although I'd seen plenty of pictures of Mount Rushmore, the story behind it was even more impressive.
Rushmore's creator, John Borglum, held this vision. "Hence, let us place there, carved high, as close to heaven as we can, the works of our leaders, their faces, to show posterity what manner of men they were. Then breathe a prayer that these records will endure until the wind and the rain alone shall wear them away."
Borglum believed in addition to the carvings, their significance should be recorded on the mountain. Funds and time ran out for that endeavor, but there is a room carved behind the head of Abraham Lincoln to hold the history of the United States. (See more about this under the "RV Adventures" tab on this website, Day 9.)
The hope was to proclaim what the United States had been, should our union and civilization cease and only the faces be left. Sobering thought. It has happened to many great civilizations before us. With the increasing destructive onslaught against our democratic process, this idea does not seemed so far-fetched.
These four presidents were chosen to testify to the greatness of the nation through the greatness of its leaders:
George Washington was chosen because he was the father of our country and represents our struggle for independence, our constitution and our liberty.
Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and greatly expanded our country through the Louisiana Purchase.
Abraham Lincoln preserved the Union and fought for the ideals of freedom and equality for all.
"A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved - I do not expect the house to fall - but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all of one thing or all the other."
Theodore Roosevelt enact a series of conservation programs United States Forest Service, signed into law the creation of five National Parks, and signed the 1906 Antiquities Act, under which he proclaimed 18 new U.S. National Monuments. He also completed the Panama Canal, linking the oceans and opening the connecting waters of the East and the West.
"The first requisite of a good citizen in this Republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight; that he shall not be a mere passenger, but shall do his share in the work that each generation of us finds ready to hand; and, furthermore, that in doing his work he shall show, not only the capacity for sturdy self-help, but also self-respecting regard for the rights of others." Nov 11, 1902
John had traveled through Rapid City with America by Bicycle. He and his riding buds stopped in for dinner at the Firehouse Brewery in 2013 and John wanted to share the experience with me. We had the most outrageous artichoke dip with parmesan-crusted black bread slices for starters. I also munched down one of their famous buffalo burgers. It tasted as good as they say.
Jewel Cave is the third longest cave in the world - over 181 mapped miles, with much more exploration opportunities available. There are several tours offered, (one which I mentioned on Day 8 - 11 under the "RV Adventure" tab on this website.)
Outside the Jewel Cave National Monument building sits this little torture chamber (if you don't like tight places). The crazier tours are four hours or more, but the cave gets so small, you have to fit through this space before joining the tour to make sure you don't get stuck in the cave. No thanks!
This space is 8 1/2 inches high by 24 inches wide. You must be able to wriggle your body through this space to go on some of the cave exploration tours. Visions like the one below, however, are highly motivational.
Located above the Wind River in Rapid City is this beautiful replica of a Norwegian Lutheran church. It is patterned after famous Borgund stavkirke, of Laerdal, Norway which was built around 1150 and is considered the most completely preserved stave church still standing in Norway.
John and Jim took the time to ride up to Chapel on the Hill above this lake area. It is a replica of a 1540
Norwegian Lutheran church that was built in Rapid City in 1976. Peace pervades the area. Services are every evening and it is a favorite place for weddings.
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