Mt Elbert: What’s in A Name
Mountains Out of Molehills, and an East Coast College
It’s about notoriety, honor . . . and fame. But when you put those things together, in a discussion about re-naming a mountain, you’re bound to get strong difference of opinions. Such is the case with the recently resurrected topic of re-naming what is familiarly known as “South Mt. Elbert” to “Mount William and Mary.”
Earlier this month, an application with the United States Board on Geographic Names was filed, requesting that a 14,134-foot geographical feature, near Colorado’s tallest mountain, Mount Elbert be re-named “Mount William and Mary.” Huh? What?
Yes, it’s true, and it’s not the first time either. The initial request was made in 1998 by the college that bears the same name, but was eventually denied because William and Mary didn’t have a strong enough connection to Colorado. So what would this Virginia college’s interest be way out here in Leadville? And has something changed to bring back a strongly opposed and failed initial attempt? To understand some of those details, here’s a link to The Denver Post story with the specifics:
A Mountain Pass By Any Other Name
One thing that has NOT changed is the feverish controversy that arises when it comes to the naming, or re-naming anything in the high country, especially mountains, or for that matter, mountain passes. For those who know their Colorado history, one of the more famous “re-naming” debacles involved the famous Vail Pass. Did you know that Vail Pass was originally supposed to be located where present-day Monarch Pass is now, south towards Salida? Eventually, the tough, torch-lighting villagers won out, pushing the Vail tribute north, and forever changing a ski area’s future. For those who may not be familiar with this story: LINK.
So when word started spreading about the possibility of re-naming “South Mt Elbert,” the social media platforms lit-up and the online discussion started to ramp up this past weekend. Leadville and Lake County protesters lit their torches and picked up their pens.
So how can you make your voice heard? Well, since the federal board’s decision relies heavily on local input, it seemed like a good time to share some links where folks can plug into the conversation, record opinions for the official record, and read other local opinions regarding the possible re-naming of “South Mt. Elbert.”
If you’re looking to do things old-school and pick up the pen, you may write directly to the following person BY MARCH 1, 2015.
Mr. Lou Yost, Executive Secretary
U.S. Board on Geographic Names
U.S. Geological Survey
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, MS 523
Reston, Virginia 20192-0523
If you’re ready to jump on the social media protest bandwagon, readers may connect with Leadville native son and local businessman Eddie Camp who has set up a online petition, where many have already weighed in.
Fair and Equal Representation/In Defense of William and Mary
It might be worth noting, that the College of William and Mary has stepped up its efforts for the request this time around, putting into motion an alumnae re-name effort that includes over 1,000 people, who were recently urged by the College President to write letter of support for their effort. But perhaps the boldest move involves making a Colorado resident and author of the re-naming request, an “honorary” alumnae of the college in order for there to appear to be a more connected “Colorado” tie.
The college also claims that one of their professors “has conducted extensive high-altitude research on the mountain.” But honestly, as a 25-year veteran Leadville journalist, I cannot honestly think of ONE TIME when such ground-breaking research ever crossed my desk. I also can’t think of one time when this institute of higher education extended itself to the local community, offering to share its knowledge and/or resources to a remote mountain community. Admittedly, I could have missed something, so please do weigh in William and Mary. Leadville Today readers can also make their opinions to the college known on the William and Mary Facebook Page and Twitter accounts.
Until then, all you torch-toting villagers, pass the lighter, looks like it’s game on in Leadville Today.