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USGS/Cascades Volcano Observatory, Vancouver, Washington

Volcanoes and History
Cascade Range Volcano Names

Mount Adams, click to enlarge Mount Adams, Washington

Mount Adams was named after the 2nd President of the United States, John Adams, a mistake in a scheme by Hall J. Kelly to call the Cascade Range the "Presidential Range". A good description as to what happened was written in 2002 by the Klickitat County Public Utility District, Jeanie Senior interview with U.S. Forest Service archaeologist Cheryl Mack, Mount Adams Ranger Station, Trout Lake, Washington. It appeared on their website (2002):

"Kelly was inspired by Lewis and Clark's naming Mount Jefferson in Oregon after the president who supported their journey across the continent. Kelly, however, intended the name Adams to go to Mount Hood -- he left the mountain in Washington out of the plan entirely. And the person who mapped the mountains mixed up Kelly's names and also put the name Mount Adams 40 miles in the wrong direction -- where there happened to be a mountain ready to bear the name. The Native Americans, of course, knew it was there all along -- they called the mountain Pahtoe. "Mount Adams" stuck firmly after 1853, when the Pacific Railroad Expedition put the name on their map. As for the grand Presidential Range scheme -- well, Cheryl said, "very few of the names took."

Native American names for Mount Adams are "Pahto" and "Klickitat". "Pahto" and "Wy'east" (Mount Hood, across the Columbia) vied for the favors of a beautiful maiden named "Loowit" (Mount St. Helens). A Gifford Pinchot National Forest "Mount St. Helens" Brochure (1980) tells the story:

"Northwest Indians told early explorers about the fiery Mount St. Helens. In fact, an Indian name for the mountain, Louwala-Clough, means "smoking mountain". According to one legend, the mountain was once a beautiful maiden, "Loowit". When two sons of the Great Spirit "Sahale" fell in love with her, she could not choose between them. The two braves, Wyeast and Klickitat fought over her, burying villages and forests in the process. Sahale was furious. He smote the three lovers and erected a mighty mountain peak where each fell. Because Loowit was beautiful, her mountain (Mount St. Helens) was a beautiful, symmetrical cone of dazzling white. Wyeast (Mount Hood) lifts his head in pride, but Klickitat (Mount Adams) wept to see the beautiful maiden wrapped in snow, so he bends his head as he gazes on St. Helens."






Mount Baker, click to enlarge Mount Baker, Washington

Mount Baker was named on April 29, 1792, after British Third Lieutenant Joseph Baker, of the Captain George Vancouver expedition. While anchored in Dungeness Bay on the south shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Baker made an observation which Vancouver recorded in his journal:

"About this time a very high conspicuous craggy mountain ... presented itself, towering above the clouds: as low down as they allowed it to be visible it was covered with snow; and south of it, was a long ridge of very rugged snowy mountains, much less elevated, which seemed to stretch to a considerable distance ... the high distant land formed, as already observed, like detached islands, amongst which the lofty mountain, discovered in the afternoon by the third lieutenant, and in compliment to him called by me Mount Baker, rose a very conspicuous object ... apparently at a very remote distance." -- Captain George Vancouver, April 29, 1792





Mount Bailey, Oregon

The U.S. Forest Service, Umpqua National Forest Website (2003): says that Mount Bailey was originally known as "Old Baldy" and was probably mistakenly written down as "Old Bailey". Mount Bailey was known as "Youxlokes" to the Klamath, which meant "Medicine Mountain". According to legend, medicine men and priests often feasted on the summit and communed with the upper world."





Belknap, click to enlarge Belknap Shield Volcano, Oregon

The Oregon Department of Transportation Website (2002) said that the name "Belknap" was after early settlers along the McKenzie River. R.S. Belknap developed Belknap Springs and his son, J.H. Belknap, was involved in the toll road over the McKenzie Pass in the early 1870s.





Crater Lake, click to enlarge Crater Lake, Oregon  (Also see Mount Mazama below)

The U.S. National Park Service, Crater Lake National Park Website (2001) gives the following information as to how Crater Lake was named:

" In the spring of 1853, eleven miners from Yreka, California stopped in for supplies at Isaac Skeeter's mercantile store in Jacksonville, Oregon (approximately 90 miles south of Crater Lake). They began bragging that they knew how to find the legendary "Lost Cabin" gold mine. Skeeters quickly gathered up ten other Oregonians and set out, using the information overheard in his store. The trip was financed by John Wesley Hillman, a 21 year old who had recently returned home from a successful trip to the California goldfields. On June 12, three members from this party came upon a large body of water sitting in a huge depression. Hillman exclaimed that it was the bluest water he had ever seen. Skeeters suggested the name "Deep Blue Lake." Lack of provisions soon drove the miners down the mountains and back to Jacksonville where they reported the discovery of the lake. However, without the prospects of gold and fear of the unknown region to the north, there was no interest in confirming this discovery. It was soon forgotten.

In 1862, another party of Oregon prospectors explored this area of the Cascade Range, including Crater Lake. The leader, Chauncy Nye, subsequently wrote a short article for the Jacksonville Oregon Sentinel. His article stated, "The waters were of a deeply blue color causing us to name it Blue Lake". This piece is the first published description of the lake.

Hostilities between settlers and Native Americans developed in the area. In response, the U.S. Army established Fort Klamath seven miles southeast of the present park boundary in 1863. This led to the construction of a wagon road from Prospect in the Rogue River Valley to the newly established Fort Klamath. On August 1, 1865, the lake was "rediscovered" by two hunters attached to the road crews. Several soldiers and civilians journeyed to see the now-legendary lake. One of the participants, Sergeant Orsen Stearns, was so awestruck by what he saw that he climbed down into the caldera and became the first non- Native American to reach the shore of Crater Lake. Captain F. B. Sprague soon joined him and suggested the name "Lake Majesty."

In July, 1869, newspaper editor Jim Sutton and several others decided to visit Lake Majesty and explore it by boat. By August, a canvas boat had been constructed and lowered onto the lake. Five people reached Wizard Island and spent several hours exploring the cinder cone. Sutton wrote an article describing the trip for his Jacksonville newspaper. Instead of Lake Majesty, Sutton substituted the name "Crater Lake" for the crater on top of Wizard Island.

William Gladstone Steel devoted his life and fortune to the establishment and management of Crater Lake National Park. His preoccupation with the lake began in 1870. In his efforts to bring recognition to the park, he participated in lake surveys that provided scientific support. He named many of the lake's landmarks, including Wizard Island, Llao Rock, and Skell Head. Steel's dream was realized on May 22, 1902 when President Theodore Roosevelt signed the bill giving Crater Lake national park status. And because of Steel's involvement, Crater Lake Lodge was opened in 1915 and the Rim Drive was completed in 1918. "





Glacier Peak, click to enlarge Glacier Peak, Washington

In 2000, Mastin and Waitt in "Glacier Peak -- History and Hazards of a Cascade Volcano" (U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 058-00) wrote:

"The stunning snow-capped volcanoes of Washington State have long been recognized by Native Americans in their language and legends, and they immediately caught the eyes of U.S. and European explorers in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. By the 1790s, Mounts Baker, Rainier, and St. Helens were noted and named in the first written descriptions of the Columbia River and Puget Sound regions. In 1805 Lewis and Clark noted Mount Adams. By the mid-19th century each of these four volcanoes had their place on a published map. Glacier Peak wasn't known by settlers to be a volcano until the 1850s, when Native Americans mentioned to naturalist George Gibbs that "another smaller peak to the north of Mount Rainier once smoked." Not until 1898 did Glacier Peak appear on a published map under its current name."





Mount Hood from Timberline, click to enlarge Mount Hood, Oregon

Mount Hood was named on October 29, 1792, after British Admiral Lord Samuel Hood. The peak was spotted and named by William Broughton, a member of the Captain George Vancouver Expedition in 1792. Broughton first spotted Mount Hood while on the Columbia River, slightly downstream of the location of today's Vancouver, Washington, however he doesn't name it until the end of his journey up the Columbia River to a location today known as Point Vancouver.

" A very high, snowy mountain now appeared rising beautifully conspicuous in the midst of an extensive tract of low or moderately elevated land lying S 67 E., and seemed to announce a termination to the river."

"The same remarkable mountain that had been seen ... again presented itself, bearing at this station S.67 E.; and though the party were now nearer to it by seven leagues, yet its lofty summit was scarcely more distinct across the intervening land, which was more than moderately elevated. Mr. Broughton honored it with Lord Hood's name; its appearance was magnificent; and it was clothed in snow from its summit, as low down as the high land, by which it was intercepted, rendered it visible. Mr. Broughton lamented that he could not acquire sufficient authority to ascertain its positive situation, but imagined it could not be less than twenty leagues from their then station." -- Captain George Vancouver, October 29, 1792

Native American called Mount Hood "Wy'east" (often spelled "Wyeast") and legends tell about the brothers "Wy'east" (Mount Hood) and "Pahto" or "Klickitat" (Mount Adams) battling for the fair maiden "La-wa-la-clough" or "Loowit" (Mount St. Helens). A Gifford Pinchot National Forest "Mount St. Helens" Brochure from 1980 told of the legend.

"Northwest Indians told early explorers about the fiery Mount St. Helens. In fact, an Indian name for the mountain, Louwala-Clough, means "smoking mountain". According to one legend, the mountain was once a beautiful maiden, "Loowit". When two sons of the Great Spirit "Sahale" fell in love with her, she could not choose between them. The two braves, Wyeast and Klickitat fought over her, burying villages and forests in the process. Sahale was furious. He smote the three lovers and erected a mighty mountain peak where each fell. Because Loowit was beautiful, her mountain (Mount St. Helens) was a beautiful, symmetrical cone of dazzling white. Wyeast (Mount Hood) lifts his head in pride, but Klickitat (Mount Adams) wept to see the beautiful maiden wrapped in snow, so he bends his head as he gazes on St. Helens."





Mount Jefferson, click to enlarge Mount Jefferson, Oregon

Mount Jefferson was named by Lewis and Clark on March 30, 1806, while on their return journey up the Columbia River. They named the peak after President Thomas Jefferson, the president who authorized their expedition.

" we made 22 Miles only to day the wind and a Strong current being against us all day, with rain. discovered a high mountain S E. Covered with Snow which we call Mt. Jefferson" -- Clark, March 30, 1806





Lassen Peak, click to enlarge Lassen Peak, California

Lassen Peak was named after Peter Lassen, an early guide and setter near the peak. The U.S. National Park Service Website (2000) for Lassen Volcanic National Park gave a brief history of Lassen Peak:

"History here generally describes the period from 1840, even though Jedediah Smith passed through in 1828 on his overland trek to the West Coast. California's gold rush brought the first settlers. Two pioneer trails, developed by William Nobles and Peter Lassen, are associated with the park. In 1851, Nobles discovered an alternate route to California, passing through Lassen. Sections of the Lassen and Nobles Emigrant Trail are still visible. Lassen, for whom the park is named, guided settlers near here and tried to establish a city. Mining, power development projects, ranching, and timbering were all attempted. The area's early federal protection saved it from heavy logging."





Mount Mazama, Oregon   (See Crater Lake above)

Mount Mazama is the name for the large stratovolcano that Crater Lake use to be (see Crater Lake above). It was named after a local Oregon climbing club which called themselves "Mazamas".

"From the unabridged Webster's dictionary: From mazame (see mazama) from Nahuatl "mazatl" (deer) "A name applied by early writers to various American ruminants supposed to be the Rocky Mountain Goat." The club founders thought that the strongest climber in the mountains (the goat) was an appropriate symbol. The southern Oregon mountain that collapsed and became Crater Lake (Mt. Mazama) was named for the club." -- Mazamas FAQ, Mazamas Website, 2002





Mount McLoughlin, click to enlarge Mount McLoughlin, Oregon

Mount McLoughlin was named after an important figure in Oregon history, Dr. John McLoughlin. The following is an excerpt from the Oregon State Archives, 50th Anniversary Exhibit Website, "John McLoughlin: Father of Oregon", June 2001:

"John McLoughlin was one of the most influential figures of the fur trade and settlement periods of Pacific Northwest history. Chief Factor of the Columbia District of the British Hudson's Bay Company, he reigned as a benevolent autocrat, befriended Americans, and eventually became an American citizen at Oregon City. ... John McLoughlin has been honored in many ways for the role he played in Oregon's early history. In 1905 the Oregon Legislative Assembly renamed the 9,495 foot Mount Pitt in southern Oregon to Mount McLoughlin. The United States Board of Geographic Names recognized that change in 1912."





Newberry Caldera, click to enlarge Newberry Caldera, Oregon

Newberry Crater is named for Dr. John Strong Newberry, a physician and naturalist, who accompanied the 1855 Topographic Corps Expedition, mapping future railroad routes. Paulina Peak is named for a Snake Indian chief who led raiding parties against white settlers in the 1850s and 1860s.

-- Excerpt from: Newberry National Volcanic Monument Website, Deschutes National Forest, 2000




Mount Rainier, click to enlarge Mount Rainier, Washington

Mount Rainier, the largest peak in Washington State, was named on May 8, 1792, by Captian George Vancouver. He called the peak "Mount Rainier" after his friend Rear Admiral Peter Rainier.

"The weather was serene and pleasant, and the country continued to exhibit, between us and the eastern snowy range, the same luxuriant appearance. At its northern extremity, mount Baker bore by compass N. 22 E.; the round snowy mountain, now forming its southern extremmy, and which, after my friend Rear Admiral Rainier, I distinguished by the name of MOUNT RAINIER, bore N. [S.] 42 E." -- Captain George Vancouver, May 8, 1792

And who was Rear Admiral Peter Rainier? According to the U.S. Navy Website, USS Rainier, AOE-7 (2002):

"Mount Rainier, or "Tahoma" as it was named by the Northwest Native Americans, was named after then Rear Admiral Peter Rainier, R.N. in 1792 by Captain George Vancouver. Born in 1741, Peter Rainier entered the Royal Navy in 1756. He served on the HMS OXFORD, YARMOUTH, NORFOLK, and BURFORD. In 1790 he commanded the MONARCH and early in 1793 commissioned the SUFFOLK which had 74 guns. In 1799 Peter Rainier was promoted to the rank of Vice-Admiral. He was stationed in the East Indies as Commodore and Commander-in-Chief until 1804. After his return to England and his retirement from active service, he continued to be consulted by the ministry on questions relating to the East India station. In 1805 he was advanced to the rank of Admiral. He became a member of Parliament in 1807 and died in 1808."

Various Native American names for Mount Rainier were "Tahoma", "Takhoma", "Ta-co-bet", and several others.





Mount Shasta, click to enlarge Mount Shasta, California

Peter Skene Ogden, a chief trader with the Hudson's Bay Company, named Mount Shasta on February 14, 1827, after the Native Americans who lived in the area.

"Tuesday 14th. Wind blew a gale. If the ship destined for the Columbia be on the coast in this stormy weather, I should feel anxious for her. Having 40 beaver to skin and dress I did not raise camp. It is a pleasure to observe the ladys of the camp vying who will produce on their return to Ft. Vancouver the cleanest and best dressed beaver. One of the trappers yesterday saw a domestic cat gone wild. It must have come from the coast. All the Indians persist in saying they know nothing of the sea. I have named this river Sastise River. There is a mountain equal in height to Mount Hood or Vancouver, I have named Mt. Sastise. I have given these names from the tribes of Indians." -- Ogden, February 14, 1827

Mount Shasta had earlier names, and, according to some historians, Peter Skene Ogden named the wrong peak. According to the Mount Shasta Chamber of Commerce Website (2002):

"According to legend, about 1821, a Spanish explorer reported that while climbing Mount Diablo near San Francisco he saw Mount Shasta. He called it "Jesus and Maria" because of the double peaks. About this time the Russians probably viewed Mount Shasta from the coast near Fort Ross. Hudson Bay Company trapper, Peter Skene Ogden left Fort Vancouver and journeyed through central Oregon, trapping beaver. The trappers wanted fur from beaver, otter, and martins to export to England. They succeeded over the course of several years to dramatically reduce the population of these small fur-bearing animals. To this day it is rare to see these animals. Ogden noted in his journal on February 14, 1827: "I have named this river Sastise River. There is a mountain equal in height to Mount Hood or Vancouver; I have named Mt. Sastise. I have given these names, from the tribes of the Indians." However historians believe he saw the Rogue River and Mount McLoughlin. Early maps portrayed today's Mount Shasta variously as Mount Pitt, Mount Jackson, and Mount Simpson and said that it was over 20,000 feet above sea level. For the most part, the explorers and fur trappers traveled through the area but did not stay for any length of time."





Mount St. Helens and Spirit Lake, click to enlarge Mount St. Helens, Washington

Mount St. Helens was named on October 20, 1792, by Captain George Vancouver as he sailed off the mouth of the Columbia River. He named the peak for British diplomat Alleyne Fitzherbert (1753-1839), whose title was Baron St. Helens.

"The clearness of the atmosphere enabled us to see the high round snowy mountains, noticed when in the southern parts of Admiralty inlet, to the southward of mount Rainier; from this station it bore by compass N. 77 E. and, like mount Rainier, seemed covered with perpetual snow, as low down as the intervening country permitted it to seen. This I have distinguished by the name of MOUNT ST. HELENS,in honor of his Britannic Majesty's ambassador at the court of Madrid. It is situated in latitude 46o 9' and in longitude 238o 4', according to our observations." -- Captain George Vancouver, October 20, 1792

Native American names for Mount St. Helens were "Loowit" or "Louwala-Clough", which meant "smoking mountain". A Gifford Pinchot National Forest "Mount St. Helens" Brochure (1980) tells the story of how Mount St. Helens came to be:

"Northwest Indians told early explorers about the fiery Mount St. Helens. In fact, an Indian name for the mountain, Louwala-Clough, means "smoking mountain". According to one legend, the mountain was once a beautiful maiden, "Loowit". When two sons of the Great Spirit "Sahale" fell in love with her, she could not choose between them. The two braves, Wyeast and Klickitat fought over her, burying villages and forests in the process. Sahale was furious. He smote the three lovers and erected a mighty mountain peak where each fell. Because Loowit was beautiful, her mountain (Mount St. Helens) was a beautiful, symmetrical cone of dazzling white. Wyeast (Mount Hood) lifts his head in pride, but Klickitat (Mount Adams) wept to see the beautiful maiden wrapped in snow, so he bends his head as he gazes on St. Helens."





Mount Thielsen, click to enlarge Mount Thielsen, Oregon

According to Lewis A. McArthur in "Oregon Geographic Names", published in 1982 by the Oregon Historical Society Press, Mount Thielsen was named "about 1872" by John A. Hurlburt of Portland, in honor of Hans Thielsen. Hans Thielsen was a prominent pioneer railroad engineer and builder.

The U.S. Forest Service, Umpqua National Forest Website (2002) states:

"Mount Thielsen was also known as Big Cowhorn. This mountain was known as Hischokwolas to Indians of the area. This rugged horn-like mountain is unique and very distinguishable."





Three Sisters, click to enlarge Three Sisters, Oregon

The U.S. Forest Service, Deschutes National Forest Website (2002) states:

"The Three Sisters appear as the "Three Sisters" on Preston's map of Oregon of 1856. The name was probably originally applied by members of the Methodist Mission in Salem in the early 1840's, and the individual peaks were given the names "Mount Faith", "Mount Hope", and "Mount Charity", beginning from the north."

The Deschutes County Landmarks Website, "The City of Sisters History" (2002) gives more possibilities:

"The town of Sisters derives its name from the three prominent Cascade peaks that grace the southwestern skyline: Faith, Hope, and Charity, collectively known as the Three Sisters. A very old story suggests that the mountains were named in the 1840s by members of a Methodist mission based in Salem. Others credit trappers who frequented the region in the early part of the 19th century."


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06/03/06, Lyn Topinka