Sneak peek of President's Park near Lead provided by free Park Information Center south of Rapid City.
Sneak peek of President's Park near Lead provided by free Park Information Center south of Rapid City.

Heads of State

The new Presidents Park in Lead, South Dakota features enormous heads of all 43 US Presidents, arranged along a walking path. Each is about 15 feet tall, and white.

Presidents Park is about forty miles northwest of Mt. Rushmore, and seeing both on the same day got us to thinking:

Is all we require of a President his head?

F.D.R. showed us that you didn't need much of a body to preside, and the rest of Clinton just kept getting him into trouble. If you look at our paper money, coins and stamps, you would be hard pressed to find a whole body portrayal. When they redesigned the dollars a few years ago, what did they do? Mainly, they made the heads bigger.

G.W. Bush wax head, National Presidents Wax Museum.
G.W. Bush wax head, National Presidents Wax Museum.

At the National Presidential Wax Museum in Keystone, SD (formerly Parade of Presidents Wax Museum), the valuable wax heads are put on interchangeable bodies, and only the heads and hands are stored away during the winter.

The World's Largest Bronze Head is perched on a pedestal at the highest point of the old Lincoln Highway (I-80) near Laramie, Wyoming. It's an oversized and slightly goofy rendition of President Abraham Lincoln, gazing blankly across the traffic.

You could argue that sculptor Gutzon Borglum designed Mt. Rushmore using only heads because one views it from such a far distance, so facial features should be as large as possible. Yet, that argument fails on two counts. In Borglum's other large outdoor work, the sculptures of Confederate greats on Stone Mountain, GA -- who are not US presidents -- the figures are full profile, astride horses.

Mt. Rushmore, convenient for posing at Reptile Gardens, Rapid City, SD.
Mt. Rushmore, convenient for posing at Reptile Gardens, Rapid City, SD.

And taking shape just down the road from Rushmore is another mammoth mountain sculpture, the Crazy Horse Memorial. It features Crazy Horse, but not just his head. He's on his horse, and his arm is pointing forward.

And when David Adickes, the creator of Presidents Park, did the 67-foot-tall statue of Sam Houston in Huntsville, TX, he did the whole body, even though there is nothing heroic about Houston's torso.

Since Rushmore predates TV, you can't blame this on a modern talking head -- telegenic Kennedy head beats five o'clock shadow sweaty Nixon head in debate -- phenomenon.

While others worry about hearts and minds, America has always voted with an eye toward the head.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use RoadsideAmerica.com's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

November 19, 2017

My Sights

My Sights

Save Cool Vacation Destinations!

Try My Sights

Roadside America app
Roadside Presidents app

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Devils Tower, Devils Tower, Wyoming (Nov 13-19, 2017)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings

Sightings. Arrives without warning. Leaves no burn marks. A free newsletter from RoadsideAmerica.com. Subscribe now!
RoadsideAmerica.com Hotel & Motel Finder

Special online rates for hotels & motels.

Book Online Now