LA Times Praises Mt. Rushmore, Disses Keystone, Gutzon Borglum
Mount Rushmore is, without a doubt, South Dakota's most iconic place.
It's referenced in our official state nickname. It's the backdrop for our license plates and driver's licenses. It's the lone image featured on the signs welcoming drivers to our state. It is, essentially, the identity of the state of South Dakota to the rest of the world.
Usually when people talk about it, or write about it, it's in glowing terms. We often hear and read of the countless numbers of breathtaking first glimpses of those famous four faces in the Black Hills.
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Occasionally someone will attempt to lump it into the 'tourist trap' category, or even label it as 'overrated' (I'm looking at you Thrillist), but you almost never hear negatives about the Mt. Rushmore experience - until now.
Recently in the Los Angeles Times, travel writer Christopher Reynolds had some very harsh things to say, not about the monument itself, but about two other parts of the Mt. Rushmore experience, the man who created it, and the monument's closest town.
Tucked in the story alongside camera tips ('the light is better in the morning') and a recap of the emotional nightly lighting ceremony ('...veterans and active-duty military are invited onstage while a patriotic hymn swells') is a swipe at nearby Keystone (which Reynolds calls a 'ticky-tacky tourist compound').
But Reynolds saves his sharpest attack for the man who created the carvings on Mt. Rushmore:
Don’t overlook the startling background of sculptor Gutzon Borglum (a member of the Ku Klux Klan for many years).
Could that be why he never responded to a Lakota Sioux chief’s request to build a monument to Crazy Horse?
Reynolds never does offer up an answer for his rhetorical question.
Now, I'm not attempting to debate Mr. Borglum's background or trying to read his mind on his decision to pass on Crazy Horse, but I just wonder what relevance any of that has in a travel article?
Personal beliefs and motivations aside, there is no debating Borgulm's accomplishments at Mt. Rushmore. Anyone who visits the Borglum Historical Center in Keystone isn't endorsing an ideology, but rather seeking more information on the inspiration and creation of the monument, as well as viewing several of the items that helped create an American treasure.