The question “When will Crazy Horse Monument be finished?” is something that I every visitor to Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota is asking, but unfortunately for us there is no set date for when it is expected to be finished, maybe in 50 years, maybe longer!!!
Why is it taking so long to finish the Crazy Horse Memorial?
Construction began of Crazy Horse in 1948 by Korczak Ziolkowski, a Polish-American sculptor born in Boston. He was originally employed in 1939 as a sculptor’s assistant on Mount Rushmore, until he was fired!! He became famous though in 1939 as one of his sculptures won first prize in New York world’s fair and he was approached by several Lakota Chiefs about a monument honouring Crazy Horse.
The Lakota Chiefs chose the mountain in the sacred Black Hills which was originally named Thunderhead Mountain, it is 6,532 feet (1,936m) above sea level and it is the 27th tallest mountain in South Dakota. It was not originally owned by the Lakota’s but they felt it would be a good place for the carving as it is pointing towards their sacred land.
On 3rd June 1948 Ziolkowski made the first blast and construction started. Since then work has been slow as Ziolkowski worked on the project mainly solo and refused to accept any government grants, thinking that if he did, he would no longer have complete control over the monument.
He raised money for the project by allowing visitors access to the monument work area and this has been continued until today by his family who are continuing to follow his wishes. Today several hundred thousand visitors visit Crazy Horse each year.
Will the Crazy Horse statue ever be finished?
This is the $1m question!! When Ziolkowski was working on the project, for many years he was working solo and would go up to the mountain on his own to work, then when his sons were older, they would help him. He was also concentrating more on the horse part of the project, which is a huge area.
After the death of Ziolkowski in 1982 his wife Ruth took over the project and decided to concentrate on finishing the face of Crazy Horse to help draw more visitors and being more money to the project. In 1998 the face was finally finished and it remains the only part of the project that has been finished to this day.
More money is raised by visitors who pay a $125 donation to go on a tour up to the face of Crazy Horse to see it up close, now you can also walk along the arm of Crazy Horse. It is only possible to do this on an afternoon during the summer months to limit the frequency of how often work needs to stop at the site.
As the completion relies on tourists and money donated to keep the project going, it really depends on if the money keeps coming in for years to come to pay for the work needed to finish the project. A lot of the work is done over summer though and in winter it is dictated by the weather, as when the weather is better and depending on the funding depends how many workers they can employ to do the work.
Some of the “Mountain Crew” were working on the project with Ziolkowski, with one of the longest workers being there over 40 years!! Nowadays some of the workers just come to help out over summer, when they have time off from their regular jobs.
How complete is the Crazy Horse Monument?
At the moment the only complete part of the project is Crazy Horse’s face. They are currently working on the left hand and are removing rock. Also becoming more visible is the left arm and left knuckle area of Crazy Horse and they are also removing granite above the horse’s mane and below Crazy Horse’s Index finger.
In 2017 the tip of Crazy Horse’s index finger was finished and now looks smooth, something they did by using a jet torch to remove all the drill marks.
With only a small team of workers, sometimes less than 10 it is going to take a long time to finish the monument to Crazy Horse.
How long has Crazy Horse been worked on?
It is now 74 years since sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski first started working on Crazy Horse and for many years he was working on the project alone. When he died in 1982 it was his wish that his family carry on and complete the project for him.
Why is the Crazy Horse Monument taking so long to finish?
It is taking a long time to complete as in summer there are many visitors to the site and there can be electrical storms in the area, from the end of May until the end of September, it is even possible for visitors to go on top of the mountain to see the face of Crazy Horse and to walk along his arm and obviously at these times the site is not being worked on.
This means that during summer progress can be slow, though it does depend exactly what work is being done at the time. They normally have more workers employed in summer too, to take advantage of the long days and summer vacations.
The workers are working based on a model that was created by Ziolkowski, and exact measurements are taken from this and from points on the carving to ensure that everything is 100% accurate.
Despite the face being finished in 1998, until recently, you could still see the metal halo structure on the head of Crazy Horse, this was used to make sure the measurements were exactly the same as the model which Ziolkowski created!!
What should we see completed in the next 15 years?
At the Crazy Horse Memorial they are hoping that by the year 2035 the arm, hairline, hand, shoulder and the top part of the horse’s head will be finished, though this could be a bit unrealistic as in the last 24 years since the face has finished, not even the finger of Crazy Horse pointing towards his tribal land has been completed!!
Does the Crazy Horse Memorial look like Crazy Horse?
It is believed that no photos of Crazy Horse exist, though a few museums do question whether certain photos they have are of Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse did not like technology and refused to have his photograph taken so the memorial to him is not an accurate portrait of how he looked but it’s symbolic and taken from many pictures of the Lakota tribe.
What will the size of Crazy Horse be once it’s finished?
Once Crazy Horse is finished it will be the World’s Second Largest Sculpture at 563 feet high and 641 feet long (171.5m high by 195m wide). In 2018 the World’s largest Statue, the Statue of Unity in India was built and is 182m high.
It will be nearly 4 times bigger than the Statue of Liberty and is much bigger than Mount Rushmore. If we consider Mount Rushmore, each Presidents head is around 60 feet by 40 feet (18m by 12m) and just the head of Crazy Horse is 87 feet by 58 feet (26.5m by 17.5m).
Crazy Horse Memorial cost to build
As Crazy Horse Memorial is funded privately and without federal donations it is not known how much has been spent to date on completing Crazy Horse Monument.
The finances are kept private, but we do know that Crazy Horse charges for entry and also for closeups to see Crazy Horse, but then they also need to pay their staff to run the centre and to work on the monument itself and to buy the tools and equipment needed too.
Not only is the money used to work on Crazy Horse but they are also have an onsite campus that is funded by the monument too.
As this is a private site I don’t think we will ever find out the true cost of how much has been spent on carving Crazy Horse Monument.
What will Crazy Horse look like when it’s finished and When will Crazy Horse Monument be finished?
If you visit the Crazy Horse Memorial and go outside to the viewing platform you will find a statue of Crazy Horse with a view of the mountain in the background, so you can see exactly how they want the mountain to look when it is finished.
If you also watch one of the Crazy Horse evening light shows, then you can see the mountain lit up as if the carving as been finished, so you have an idea of how it will look in the future.
Most of us that have already visited Crazy Horse will never see it finished, some predict it might not be finished for another 3 generations, but I hope that in my lifetime that we will get to see a lot of progress and an idea of how it will look when it is finished.
When I visited they told me it might be finished in 50 years, though at the rate the work is progressing and how much has been done in the last 40 years since Korczak Ziolkowski died, I would be very shocked if that was true.
Read more about visiting Crazy Horse Memorial
Crazy Horse Monument Tours
If you don’t drive then you can still fly into Rapid City and take a day tour to explore the Blackhills and visit Crazy Horse Memorial, Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park.
Still need help planning your trip to Crazy Horse then read these articles:
- Everything you need to know to visit Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota
- Crazy Horse Laser Show
- Crazy Horse vs Mount Rushmore
- Visit Mount Rushmore
- Mount Rushmore Night Show
- Where to stay near Mount Rushmore
You might also find these articles useful to help plan your trip to South Dakota:
- The Best Things to do in South Dakota
- What to do in Badlands National Park
- Visiting Sioux Falls Park
- What to see in Custer State Park
- Visiting Mount Rushmore
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My sister my father and me visited Crazy Horse in 1968 it is incredible to see in person i remember going back to school that september and telling my speech class about it and they all did not know anything about it i’m glad it is getting more attention now
I was disappointed not being able to have a closer encounter with Crazy Horse. 1¼ miles away is as close as we could get that’s looking from the viewing deck.
The museums were big, clean and spacious. Sorry to say we weren’t real interested in the museums. Crazy Horse was our last stop on our trip. We needed to start back home to Kansas. So we did cut this stop short. If we started with Crazy Horse first maybe we would’ve stayed longer!
I’d hire about another couple hundred workers and get this thing moving. You’re going to run out of donors to pay admission fees!
Hi Tony, there is a shuttle bus that you can get that only costs $4 to get a closer look at Crazy Horse, or with a $125 donation you can actually go right up the face, though this part does need to be booked in advance. The video at the visitors centre is well worth a watch to learn the history of Crazy Horse, but I do agree I wish they were able to hire a few hundred workers for a few years to quicken the progress but I am guessing there just isn’t the money to do that!!!