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January 25, 2007

Laurentian Chapter Endorses High Peak Name Change Proposal

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise has also published an article about the Grace Peak proposal titled Rethinking two peaks in honor of two mountaineers


East Dix, proposed to be renamed Grace Peak, as seen from Dix Mountain. Photo: Doug Arnold.

The Laurentian Chapter recently gave its endorsement to a proposal by the Adirondack Forty-Sixers to rename two of the peaks after well-known figures of the early days of hiking in the region: East Dix as Grace Peak in honor of Grace Hudowalski, and South Dix as Carson Peak in honor of Russell Carson.

Grace Hudowalski (1906-2004) was the first woman, and ninth person, known to have reached all the summits. She was a founder of the Forty-Sixers and historian of the organisation for more than sixty years. She has written thousands of personal letters of encouragement to climbers following after her and maintained the records of their climbs, which are now filed in the special manuscripts collection of the New York State Library. As an ambassador of the Adirondacks throughout eastern North America on behalf of the State of New York, she has done an enormous amount to promote and popularize the region. In 1986, both houses of the New York State Legislature paused to honor her for her work. Grace's influence continues through her Forty-Sixer Conservation Trust, which has funded a number of initiatives including the Summit Steward program (to place stewards at the most popular summits to provide nature interpretation and to help protect the fragile alpine vegetation) and the Hudowalski Essay Contest (which will provide scholarship prizes for the best essay written about the history, lore, adventure or environmental issues in the Adirondacks).

Russell Carson (1884-1961), is credited with writing the first major history and trail guide of the High Peaks, Peaks and People of the Adirondacks, which recorded many first ascents, gave the origin of many mountain names, described trails, and inspired many to enjoy the Adirondack Park. He donated the book and its proceeds to the Adirondack Mountain Club, of which he was a founding member in 1922 and president during 1930-1931. Russell helped inspire George and Bob Marshall and Herbert Clark, the first people ever to hike to the summits of the forty-six in 1925, and later served as a trustee for the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks.

East Dix and South Dix are so named by association with the highest peak in their range, Dix Mountain; so the proposal will not entail a loss of recognition of an individual. Still, some people may feel the names should remain unchanged. The final authority for a name change, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, will not make changes arbitrarily but will consider well-reasoned applications having the support of local government and other local interest groups, and the recommendation of the New York State Committee on Geographic Names (a five member body operating under the auspices of the New York State Museum).

To gain the necessary local and State support, the Grace Peak Committee of the Forty-Sixers is now on a campaign of education and enthusiasm-raising, not only in the immediate township where the peaks are located, but throughout the Adirondack region. In November 2006, Doug Arnold presented the Committee's message to a St. Lawrence County audience. If you'd like more information you may contact Doug at (315) 695-4441 or adkclimber@ix.netcom.com. Russell Carson himself wrote, "True Adirondack lovers feel that the mountains which are most appropriately named are those that perpetuate the memory of men who have had a close connection with the region." Perhaps in due course the memories of Grace and Russell will be commemorated most appropriately, among the mountains.

 

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