Lincoln Borglum

Lincoln Borglum in a bosun chair on the side of Mount Rushmore.
Lincoln Borglum in a bosun chair on the side of Mount Rushmore.

James Lincoln Borglum was born on April 9, 1912, in Stamford, Connecticut. On September 24, 1924, 12 year old Lincoln accompanied his father on their first trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota. They were invited by Doane Robinson, South Dakota State Historian, to see if it would be possible to carve a mountain in the Black Hills. During their search of the area around the Needles they quickly found that the rock in this area was not suitable for carving. A second trip took place in August of 1925 and it was during this trip when Mr. Borglum found Mount Rushmore.

Lincoln was his father's right hand man and he worked for several years on the mountain without pay at several different positions including the crucial positions of "pointer." Finally in 1934 he was hired at an hourly wage. Lincoln was promoted to chief pointer in 1935. He progressed very fast during this time and became the superintendent of all work in 1938.

Being the boss' son did not guarantee he would be liked or have an easy time working with the other men. Indeed, many saw Lincoln as a young man who had lived a privileged life. However, Lincoln's quiet, friendly personality and strong work ethics soon won everyone over. He was well liked by all.

After his father's death on March 6, 1941, he took on the responsibility of sculptor. From 1941 –1943 he served as the first National Park superintendent at Mount Rushmore. James Lincoln Borglum remains the unsung hero of Mount Rushmore National Memorial. He died of a heart attack in 1986 at the age of 74. He is buried in San Antonio, Texas.

Last updated: August 25, 2016

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