Lincoln Borglum

Lincoln Borglum

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James Lincoln de la Mothe Borglum (April 9, 1912 – January 27, 1986) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 sculptor, photographer, author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

 and engineer
An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

; he was best known for overseeing the completion of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota, in the United States...

 after the death in 1941 of the project's leader, his father Gutzon Borglum
Gutzon Borglum
Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum was an American artist and sculptor famous for creating the monumental presidents' heads at Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, the famous carving on Stone Mountain near Atlanta, as well as other public works of art.- Background :The son of Mormon Danish immigrants, Gutzon...


Named after his father's favorite president, Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

, and called by his middle name, Lincoln Borglum was the first child of Gutzon Borglum and his second wife, Mary. During his youth, Lincoln accompanied his father to the Black Hills
Black Hills
The Black Hills are a small, isolated mountain range rising from the Great Plains of North America in western South Dakota and extending into Wyoming, USA. Set off from the main body of the Rocky Mountains, the region is something of a geological anomaly—accurately described as an "island of...

 of South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

 and was present when the site for the Mt. Rushmore monument was selected. Although he had originally planned to study engineering at the University of Virginia
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...

, Lincoln Borglum began work on the monument in 1933 at the age of 21 as an unpaid pointer. Lincoln Borglum quickly moved into a series of more important jobs: he was put on the payroll in 1934, promoted to assistant sculptor in 1937, and promoted to superintendent in 1938 with an annual salary of $4,800.

Gutzon Borglum had nearly completed the 60-foot heads of the four presidents (Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

, Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

, Lincoln and T. Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

) when he died on March 6, 1941. Lincoln Borglum had to abandon his fathers ambitious plans to carry the work down to include the torsos of the presidents and an entablature
An entablature refers to the superstructure of moldings and bands which lie horizontally above columns, resting on their capitals. Entablatures are major elements of classical architecture, and are commonly divided into the architrave , the frieze ,...

 due to a lack of funding; he left the monument largely in the state of completion it had reached under his father's direction.

Borglum was appointed Mount Rushmore National Memorial's first superintendent and began serving on October 1, 1941. The work on the monument officially stopped on October 31, 1941. He served in that capacity until May 15, 1944.

Borglum continued to work as a sculptor after leaving Mt. Rushmore. He created several religious works for churches in Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 including the well-known shrine Our Lady of Loreto in Goliad
Goliad, Texas
Goliad is a city in Goliad County, Texas, United States. It had a population of 1975 at the 2000 census. Founded on the San Antonio River, it is the county seat of Goliad County. It is part of the Victoria, Texas Metropolitan Statistical Area. Goliad is located on U.S. Highway 59, named also for...

, and wrote three books.

Like many men who worked on the Rushmore project, Borglum's lungs were permanently scarred from breathing in granite dust associated with the blasting. Borglum died in Corpus Christi, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas
Corpus Christi is a coastal city in the South Texas region of the U.S. state of Texas. The county seat of Nueces County, it also extends into Aransas, Kleberg, and San Patricio counties. The MSA population in 2008 was 416,376. The population was 305,215 at the 2010 census making it the...

 at the age of 73. One of his best known works, a bust of his father, is on display outside the Lincoln Borglum Visitors Center at Mount Rushmore.

Lincoln Borglum was a member of Battle River Masonic Lodge No. 92
Hermosa Masonic Lodge
Hermosa Masonic Lodge is an historic Masonic building located in Hermosa, South Dakota, United States. In 1926 Battle River Lodge No. 92 of Hermosa bought the 1889 Hermosa School, stripped it of its brick veneer, belfry and end gable and moved it to what is now 33 North 2nd Street where the...

 in Hermosa, South Dakota
Hermosa, South Dakota
Hermosa is a town in Custer County, South Dakota, United States. The population was 398 at the 2010 census.-Geography:Hermosa is located at ....



  • My Father's Mountain (1965)
  • Borglum's Unfinished Dream (Co-written with June Culp Zeitner, 1976)
  • Mount Rushmore: The Story Behind the Scenery (1977)