2007-04-27 Our trip to Mt.
and on to the Mormon Trail
On the way West to serve a mission in the Salt Lake Family History
Department of our church we decided to see as many sites as we could
see. One of them was South Dakota's Mt. Rushmore which Linda and
I had both always wanted to visit. It's pretty much out of the
way but there were still some other things on the way there we were
interested in (including the Black Hills which we didn't get to visit).
After Rushmore, we also saw parts of the Mormon Trail. A few of
those photos are at the end of this web page.
First, let me show you a photo Linda took of the huge "Wall Drug Store"
in Wall, SD.
I won't show you the inside. For more photos of this place you
can always visit their web site:
Then we were on our way through part of the Black Hills.
We passed the famous "Old MacDonald's Farm" on the way. Oh, yes,
I'm sure there are others but I'm equally sure this guy would tell you
his is "THE" Old MacDonald's farm
And near the entrance to Rushmore park we saw this fascinating wooden
Finally, we made it to the entrance to the park...
... and got our first glimpse of the Mt. Rushmore as we rounded a curve
at the top of the hill.
It takes your breath away.
What took us most by surprise was they were filming one of my favorite
movies, "National Treasure."
Here's the sign informing us they were filming. We didn't even
know Disney was making a sequel.
We passed signs informing us of the movie's production as we continued
along the avenue of flags.
There were more signs letting us know the movie would be filmed as we
As we made it up the wooden walk to get a better view of the memorial,
we could see "FBI" men all over the place. Curiosity finally got
the better of me. I asked, "Are these really FBI agents?" A
park ranger replied, "No, they're just movie actors." We
didn't learn until the movie was released recently that there was a
scene with a lot of FBI agents in it. We must have arrived the
day they were filming that scene.
"Quiet Please" signs were all over the place and there were actors,
camera men, and support personnel everywhere.
As far as we could tell, this must have been the director. I
don't remember this guy being in the movie.
But here's what we really went to see. We saw several views of
the Rushmore memorial. Washington is obscured in this photo but
you can clearly see Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln.
And here's all 4 presidents in a longer range shot. Linda's
photos always impress me.
I took this one. I had no idea what it was but I wanted a picture
of it. It looked like some kind of generator to me. If
there are any bad photos in this group you can probably blame me for it.
After we exited the long wooden walk that went up and down the
mountainside in front of the memorial, we had to go up these older,
stone steps back to the avenue of flags.
While we were down below on the plaza a lady asked if we'd take her
photo. After I snapped her picture I asked her if she would take
one of Linda and I.
Then I spotted these two guys on a rock in the distance.
As we were watching from the overlook, this interesting looking fellow
stood by and shouted, "Quiet on the Set." I never did find out
what his job was but he was obviously part of the movie crew. He
kept talking to someone in his walkie-talkie. I assumed it was
Then we spotted 3 fellows on the same rock in the distance. I'm
sure this ever had anything to do with the final release of the film
but they were interesting enough to photograph.
We stopped into the "Carver's Cafe" to get lunch. This
interesting reproduction of an old photo was posted outside.
While we were at Mt. Rushmore, we learned much of the work was not done
by the artist. It would have taken one man many
lifetimes to move that much rock. Instead, he directed the rock's
removal by using these skilled workers who literally carved the rock's
surface with jack hammers and dynamite.
As we left, I saw the names of two huge movie studios represented by
these semi-tractor trailers. This one was Universal Studios ...
... and this one was Paramount, the studio that produced all the
Indiana Jones movies.
We left the park but didn't get far before we were reminded this is a
wilderness area. As some of the locals trotted across the road in
front of us, it was clear whose road it was.
We didn't get a photo of the state of South Dakota sign as we entered
the state so Linda took one for us as we left.
Then she got this shot of the Nebraska sign just down the road.
Here's where we ran back across the Mormon trail. The Mormon
Trail, the Oregon Trail, and the California Trail all co-exist along
the North Platte River much of the route west. The Mormons
usually stayed on one side of the river while others stayed on the
opposite bank so each group could have plenty of
grass for their cattle. After the Mormons discovered gold in
California there were lots more people on the trail west.
Here's what the trail looks like today, a well maintained and still
well used dirt road.
Soon we came upon this very famous landmark. Do you know what
That's right! It's Chimney Rock, the most famous landmark on the
trail in Nebraska.
And here's the North Platte River.
In case you've never seen it, it first appears as a wide and shallow
river meandering through the western plains. But the Mormon
pioneers recorded that it could be trecherous at times.
Here's what many of the trail signs look like.
We went off the main road to visit this little museum. The museum
was closed but we got two great photos I'd like to end this photo essay
with. They're so good I couldn't decide which to use so I
included both of them. They're at the bottom after the map below.
Here's a map of the Mormon, Oregon, and California trails. Notice
how they stay close to each other for hundred's of miles across the
plains, not significantly separating until they reached Fort Bridger at
the edge of the Rocky Mountains. Here's where the Mormons went
for miles and miles across some of the most ragged mountains you can
For hundreds of miles across the plains the land is relatively flat by
comparison. But the "short" distance from Fort Bridger to Salt
Lake fools you. Once you see the difference between the Wyoming
side of the trail and the path the pioneers took through the mountains,
you'll say, "How on EARTH did they ever get across there with wagons
and ox teams?"
So here's the first of the two photos. I think they're both
stunning and good enough to hang on the wall and beautify the
home. Which would you pick, this one?
Or this one? Personally, I couldn't resist. I had to pick
both. I've already told Linda I like them so much I want them in
our home when we move back to Georgia. I love looking at these
scenes. They're so beautifully western, it's hard to believe we
took them with our own camera.
If you're anxious to see more photos of the Mormon Trail, be sure to
Trip West web page.
I hope you enjoyed this little trip out west as much as we did bringing
it to you. Next time you watch National Treasure 2, remember us,