Naming Error Corrected


Denali from Camp Denali, June 2012

Denali from Camp Denali, June 2012

In 1896, unsuccessful gold miner William Dickey announced he had named a tall peak he had seen in Alaska’s interior after the then-Republican nominee for President, William McKinley.

Never mind that the Alaska Native peoples had named the mountain millennia earlier. Never mind that the Europeans who had seen it decades earlier had been entirely content to call it by its Native name. Never mind that countless other prospectors, trappers and explorers had seen the mountain earlier. Never mind that, as Alaskans say, McKinley never saw Denali. Dickey’s arrogance and McKinley’s successful candidacy carried the day, and the United States mis-named Denali as “Mt. McKinley.”

The State of Alaska corrected the error in 1975 when the Alaska Geographic Board corrected the error at the state level. But it wasn’t until August 30, 2015 that Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel finally fixed the misnomer at the federal level.

Former President McKinley still has a river named after him – the McKinley River, draining the northerly side of the Mountain. A river, incidentally, that William Dickey never saw. Along with at least 16 other natural features, according to Donald Orth’s A Dictionary of Alaska Place Names. Not bad for a U.S. President ranked no higher than 19th in U.S. history.1


  1. WC made the error of reading the comments to this relatively minor news story as reported on Fox News. The virulent, frothing hatred of everything associated with Obama Administration would give a criminal psychiatrist pause. There will have to be some blog posts about this issue sometime. 
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One thought on “Naming Error Corrected

  1. But, but, Ms Bristol Palin just declared on her (ghostwritten) FB page that she’s never heard of ANYONE in Alaska calling the Mtn. Denali. LOLOLOL.

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