CRAZY HORSE, S.D. _ At Mount Rushmore, more than 2.5 million visitors each year trade stares with presidents Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Lincoln.
Carved into a mountain 17 miles away is another hard-eyed face, wearing an expression perhaps less serene and self-satisfied. Dwarfing the granite presidents, and commemorating a man more notable in Black Hills history, is the emerging memorial to the storied and controversial Lakota war chief Crazy Horse.
Crazy Horse refused to be photographed, so the stern rock portrait is the conception of the project's creator, sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, based on historic descriptions. Korczak, as he called himself, dedicated the second half of his life to designing and forming the gargantuan equestrian statue _ planned to be "in the round," not just a mural, and meant to honor all Native Americans as Rushmore honors the first 150 years of the white American nation.
Since 1948 Korczak, his family and a few employees have been paring the mountain, dynamiting off millions of tons of reddish granite to block out a rider with his left arm pointing over the head of his galloping horse. The face is finished, precision-blasted and polished smooth with a 3,400-degrees-Fahrenheit torch. Currently, Korczak's son Casimir leads a crew of 12 blasting toward the stallion's head, outlined with a 6-foot-wide stripe of paint, visible from the highway.
Visitors to the nonprofit memorial normally can't get any closer to the mountain than the visitors center, about a mile away _ after all, it's a blasting zone _ but the carving is impressive even at that distance. And inside the big, brand-new main building are scale models made by Korczak and diagrams mapping the eventual dimensions. Look out the huge windows and picture this:
_Height from base: 563 feet, including a 44-foot feather that will be hand-built on Crazy Horse's head (the Washington Monument …