Lincoln Ellsworth received a master's degree from Columbia University and a doctorate in law from Yale. He took his first job wielding an ax on the first survey of the Grand Pacific railroad across Canada in the early 1900's. He later worked as a construction engineer in Montreal, for the Canadian Pacific Railway, and as a gold prospector. He organized the Ellsworth Expedition for Johns Hopkins University, studying geology in the Andes Mountains. In 1925, he planned to go with Roald Amundsen on a flight from Spitsbergen to Alaska over the North Pole, but the flight was grounded by weather. The two of them, along with Col. Umberto Nobile, coasted across the North Pole the following year in the dirigible Norge. In 1935, Ellsworth made a 2,500-mile flight across the Antarctic, claiming 30,000 square miles of land for the United States. Four years later he flew into the Antarctic from a base in the Indian Ocean and claimed an additional 81,000 square miles.