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One Man's Dream—The Beginning Model of Sculptor and Designer

Gutzon Borglum

National Park Service, Centennial One Object Exhibit

National Park Service, Centennial One Object Exhibit
United States

Photo by Otto Boehman

A true "American Treasure" this model was designed and built by Sculptor Gutzon Borglum. The model is approximately twenty-four feet high. Construction consists of a combination of plaster, burlap, and excelsior (wood chips) supported by an arrangement of wooden boards. Sculptor Borglum's medium was plaster because it is easily changed, if necessary, into different configurations. Borglum would find out that many changes would take place during the carving process, a total of nine changes.

The first model consisted of Washington alone then Lincoln was added to Washington's left. Borglum then decided that the position of Jefferson would be on Washington's right. At this point in time Theodore Roosevelt was not included on the model. A problem soon arrived with the carving of Jefferson to the right of Washington. A crack developed in the area that ran through Jefferson's mouth area. The only thing that could be done was to blow Jefferson off the mountain and position him on Washington's left side and move Lincoln further to the left. Borglum adjusted the model by moving the head of Lincoln further to the left and moved Jefferson from the right-side to the left of Washington and leaving a space for Theodore Roosevelt. All the moving of the heads on the model was now completed.

The model is scaled at 1" equals 1'. A metal plate on top of Lincoln's head with degree measurements, used to record the angle of which way you want the figure to face. Out in front, a ruler scaled in inches followed by a plumb bob. Borglum put these three tools together and called it the "Pointing System" By using the pointing system Borglum could record any point on the model and be able to find that same point on the mountain after multiplying studio measurements by 12.

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  • Title: One Man's Dream—The Beginning Model of Sculptor and Designer
  • Creator: Gutzon Borglum
  • Contributor: Mount Rushmore National Memorial
  • Park Website: Park Website
  • National Park Service Catalog Number: MORU 1
  • Material: Plaster, burlap, and excelsior (wood chips) supported by an arrangement of wooden boards

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