Mount Rushmore National Memorial History, Part 2

by Katlyn Richter on May 6, 2011 · 1 comment

We’re continuing the Mount Rushmore history this month; last month we posted information here about two important people to the monument. This month, we’ll share a bit more information about how Gutzon Borglum’s (the sculptor) family was also involved at Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial - Photo by SD Tourism

Lincoln Borglum
Gutzon Borglum’s son, Lincoln, first traveled to the Black Hills when he was 12 years old. He actually hiked around with his dad in search of the perfect mountain and was with him when Gutzon laid eyes on “Rushmore.” As a young man, he worked alongside his dad: first as pointer, transferring complicated measurements on the mountain and then as a project supervisor. When his father died in 1941, he finished the carving as we know it today by putting the final touches on the four faces. At the age of 29, Lincoln became the first National Park Service superintendent at Mount Rushmore and served in that role until 1944.

Mary Ellis Borglum Vhay
While her brother, Lincoln, contributed mightily to Mount Rushmore during the carving years, Mary Ellis’s efforts made an impact later on. In 1986, she renewed the interest in completing the Hall of Records which Gutzon Borglum had originally planned to build behind the carving. It was to be an elaborate 80 x 100-foot room with bronze and glass cabinets displaying the complete records of the U.S., including the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and why and how Mount Rushmore was carved. Only a 75-foot deep cave was a result of Borglum’s dream. Due to his daughter’s efforts, the Hall was finally finished in 1998, but on a smaller scale. Today, 16 porcelain enamel panels etched with the text of U.S. documents, biographies of each of the four presidents and the explanation of how and why Mount Rushmore was carved are buried within a teakwood box within the Hall of Records’ chamber.

The next post on the history of Mount Rushmore will focus on the faces of the four presidents that are carved into the mountain side. You’ll learn how the four faces represent birth, growth, preservation and development of America.

This is the second part in a series of Mount Rushmore history posts. The Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society allowed us to share these great pieces of history about Mount Rushmore National Memorial, visit their website for more information. They can also be found on facebook by searching for “Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society.”

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