Early Beartooth survey reveals old names

Corrections and additions for Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone.

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Early Beartooth survey reveals old names

Post by TomTuriano »


I recently visited with the Whitham family of Idaho Falls. I learned that James C. Whitham, who was one of the first supervisors of the Beartooth National Forest in the early 1900s, directed a topographical survey of the Beartooths, taking up where James P. Kimball left off after his incomplete survey in 1898.

During the 1910s, Whitham and a small crew traveled in many valleys, and onto many peaks and plateaus with their survey equipment to pinpoint and name the range's peaks. They also used plane tables to draw the topography. I would really like to see those first topo maps of the range if they still exist.

Here are some of the early names I made note of:

1. Whitetail Peak was once known as Mount Lockhart, for a Beartooth Forest ranger. (The name "Mount Lockhart" has since been transferred to the broad bump along the northeast ridge of Whitetail.)

2. The glaciers or snowfields on the northwest and northeast sides of Mount Peale were once named Septum and Phantom snowfields, respectively.

3. Today's Castle Mountain was first named Sundance Mountain.

4. Peak 12,540T (known previously as 12,529, which is the plateau-like summit adjacent Castle Rock Spire) was first named Rainbow Peak. (In my notes on page 454, I suggested naming this mountain "Firedance Mountain," which was the name suggested by Dougal McCarty and Brian Leo for Castle Rock Spire. I now withdraw that proposal, and suggest we keep Whitham's original name: "Rainbow Peak.")

5. Today's Castle Rock Mountain (Peak 12,408) was first named Summit Peak.

6. Today's Summit Mountain was first named Castle Rock Mountain.

7. Today's Prairieview Mountain north of Phantom Creek was first named Mount Fairview.

8. The lowest point of the Froze-to-Death Plateau (the pass between Phantom Creek and West Rosebud) was once known as Moor Pass.
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