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Place Names of the High Sierra (1926)
by Francis P. Farquhar

[ A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, Y, & Z. ]


“Kaiser or Keyser: both are used locally. The name is very old, and its rightful spelling unknown. I remember hearing the old miners speak of Kaiser Gulch (a placer district) way back in 1862, the year of the big flood; but I know nothing as to the name.” (L. A. Winchell: Manuscript, 1896.)

Kaiser Gulch appears on Hoffmann’s map, 1873.

Poly (Napoleon) Kanawyer maintained a camp at Copper Creek in Kings River Cañon for many years. (J. N. Le Conte.)

KAWEAH PEAKS[Mount Whitney, Tehipite]
The Kaweah Peaks are called, from east to west: Mount Kaweah (13,816), Second Kaweah (13,728), Red Kaweah (13,754), Black Kaweah (13,752).

“Mt. Kaweah is the form which has long been used locally for the round-topped peak in the Kaweah group,—not ‘Kaweah Peak.’ As the collective name ‘The Kaweah Peaks’ is so often used, ‘.Mt. Kaweah’ is more distinctive.” (William R. Dudley, in S.C.B., 1903, IV:4, p. 306.)

The first ascent of Mount Kaweah was made in September, 1881, by J. W. A. Wright, of Hanford, F. H. Wales, of Tulare, and W. B. Wallace, of Visalia— (Elliott: Guide to the Grand and Sublime Scenery of the Sierra Nevada, 1883, pp. 47-49, 59.) They named the peaks, from left to right: Mount Abert (for Colonel John J. Abert, one time Chief of Topographical Engineers, U. S. Army); Mount Henry (for Professor Joseph Henry, of Princeton); Mount Le Conte (for Professor Joseph Le Conte, of the University of California) and Mount Kaweah. The first three names were not given sufficient publicity and have lapsed from use.

First ascent of Red Kaweah, July, 1912, by Charles W. Michael. (S.C.B., 1913, IX:1, p. 48.)

First ascent of Black Kaweah, August 11, 1920, by Duncan McDuffie, Onis. Imus Brown, and James S. Hutchinson. (S.C.B., 1921, XI:2, pp. 131-134.—See, also, S.C.B., 1922, XI:3, pp. 311-312; S.C.B., 1923, XI:4, p. 440.)

KAWEAH RIVER[Kaweah, Tehipite]
The Kaweah River has four principal forks: North, Middle, East, and South. The Marble Fork is a branch of the Middle Fork.

Kaweah River is named after a Yokuts tribe called Kawia, or probably more exactly, Gā'wia. They lived on or near the river where it emerges from the foothills into the plains. The name has no known connection with the almost identically pronounced southern California town Cahuilla.” (Kroeber: California Place Names. of Indian Origin, 1916, p. 44.)

Colonel George W. Stewart, an authority on the Indians of this region, considers the translation sometimes given, “I sit here,” to be incorrect.

“The next stream we came to was the Pi-pi-yu-na, or Kah-we-ya, and very commonly known as the Four Creeks. Immediately upon leaving the mountains, like the Kings River, it divides itself into several streams; but, unlike those of that river, they do not unite, but continue to diverge, forming a delta, whose base is over fifteen miles long.” (Williamson: Report of Explorations in California, Pacific Railroad Surveys, 1853, V:1, p. 13.)

The High Sierra features derived the name from the Kearsarge Mine on the eastern side of the pass. Camp constructed in 1865; destroyed by avalanche in spring of 1866.

“Shortly before [1864], sympathizers with the South in the Civil War had named the Alabama hills, near Lone Pine, in evidence of their gratification at the destructive career of the Confederate privateer ‘Alabama.’ Having the end of that career by the Kearsarge fresh in mind, [Thomas W.] Hill and his partners [G. W. Cornell, A. Kittleson, Thomas May, and C. McCormack], staunch Unionists, evened it up by calling their claim after the Union battleship.” (Chalfant: The Story of Inyo, 1922, pp. 195-197.)

A party of eleven prospectors, including John Bubbs and Thomas Keough, crossed Kearsarge Pass from Independence in July, 1864. (S.C.B., 1915, X:3, p. 340.)

The U. S. S. Kearsarge was named for the mountain in Merrimack County, New Hampshire. Early spellings were “Carasaga,” “Cusagee,” “Kyasage,” “Kyar Sarga.” The present spelling is first found in Philip Carrigain’s map of New Hampshire, 1816. (Appalachia, December, 1915, XIII:4 p. 377.)

James Edward Keeler (1857-1900); graduate of Johns Hopkins University, 1881; astronomer, Lick Observatory, Mount Hamilton, 1838-1889, director of Allegheny Observatory, 1889-1898; Doctor of Science, University of California, 1893; director of Lick Observatory, 1898-1900; accompanied S. P. Langley on expedition to Mount Whitney, 1881. The name appears on an outline of the Mount Whitney range in Langley’s Solar Heat, 1884, p. 37.

KEITH, MOUNT (13,990)[Mount Whitney]
William Keith (1838-1911); famous California landscape painter; native of Aberdeenshire, Scotland; visited the High Sierra several times with John Muir; a charter member of the Sierra Club. (S.C.B., 1911, VIII:2, p. 130; Badè: Life and Letters of John Muir, 1923-1924.)

Named by Miss Helen M. Gompertz (Mrs. J. N. Le Conte), July, 1896. (S.C.B., 1897, II:2, p. 84.)

First ascent, July 6, 1898, by Cornelius Beach Bradley, Joseph C. Shinn, Jennie E. Price, and Robert M. Price. (S.C.B., 1899, II:5, p. 274.)

KENDRICK PEAK (10,346)[Dardanelles]
Named by Colonel Forsyth in 1912 for Henry Lane Kendrick (1811-1891), professor of chemistry, U. S. Military Academy, 1857-1880; graduated U. S. Military Academy, second lieutenant, 1835; first lieutenant, 1837; captain, 1846; brevet major for gallantry in Mexican War, 1847; A.M., Dartmouth, 1844; LL.D., Missouri, 1868; Rochester, 1869; retired, 1880. (H. C. Benson.)

KERN LAKE[Olancha]
Caused by landslide in winter of 1867-1868. (W. F. Dean, in Mount Whitney Club Journal, 1902, I:1, p. 14.) Has been known as Fish Lake, Upper Lake, and Big Kern Lake; the lower lake as Little Lake, Lower Lake, and Little Kern Lake. (G. W. Stewart.)

KERN RIVER[Mount Whitney, Olancha]
Named by John C. Fremont for Edward M. Kern, topographer and artist of Fremont’s third expedition. (Fremont: Memoirs, 1887, p. 455.) Kern was with the detachment under Talbot and Walker that crossed from Owens Valley by Walker Pass in December, 1845, and camped for three weeks on Kern River.

“From these circumstances the pass in which Walker and Kern were encamped was called Walker’s Pass; and, as no name was known to Colonel Fremont for the stream which flowed from it, he named it Kern River. This stream was, and is now, known to the native Californians as the Po-sun-co-la, a name doubtless derived from the Indians.” (Williamson: Report of Explorations in California, Pacific Railroad Surveys, 1853, V:1, p. 17.)

“In the month of July, 1897, our party of four—Prof. W. R. Dudley (special botanist of the Stanford University), Messrs. Otis Wright and Harry Dudley (students at Stanford), and I [W. F. Dean]—camped at the junction of the three branches of the Kern, and here we crossed the East and Middle Forks and began our climb up the west branch of the Kern, or Kern-Kaweah, as We afterward named it.” (Mt. Whitney Club Journal, 1902, no. 1, p. 13.—See also, S.C.B., 1898, II:3, p. 188.)

This branch of the Kern was named Cone Creek in 1881 by Captain J. W. A. Wright for an officer of the U. S. Army, and so appears on Wright’s Map in Elliott’s Guide to the Grand and Sublime Scenery of the Sierra Nevada, 1883. (W. B. Wallace.)

KERRICK CAÑON[Dardanelles, Bridgeport]
Origin not definitely ascertained; probably named for a sheepman of the ’80s.

KETTLE DOME (9452)[Tehipite]
Turreted dome north of Tehipite. First ascent, July 20, 1921, by Hermann F. Ulrichs. (California Alpine Club Trails, 1921, pp. 17-19.)

KETTLE PEAK (10,038)[Tehipite]
“From this camp, and the next (No. 169) two miles farther up the divide, an examination was made of an interesting and characteristic feature in the topography of this granitic region, and to which the name of ‘The Kettle’ was given. This is a rocky amphitheatre at the head of a stream which flows back directly northeast from its source towards the axis of the chain, for a distance of twelve miles, and then curves and enters King’s River [Roaring River], a peculiar and almost unique course for a stream in the Sierra Nevada. . . . The Kettle is open at the north-north-east end, and extends as a green valley some six miles, to the south fork of King’s River [Roaring River]. . . . This rim of the Kettle is a beautiful illustration of the concentric or ‘dome-structure’ of the granite of this region.” (Whitney Survey: Geology, 1865, pp. 374-375.)

KEYES PEAK (11,051)[Dardanelles]
Named by Colonel Forsyth in 1912 for his son-in-law, Edward Appleton Keyes; commissioned second lieutenant, 1901; first lieutenant, 1910; captain, 1916; major, 1920; lieutenant-colonel, 1923. (H. C. Benson.)

H. M. Kibbie owned lands in the vicinity.

KING, MOUNT (12,909)[Mount Whitney]
Named by the Brewer party of the Whitney Survey in 1864 for Clarence King, a member of the party. (Whitney Survey: Geology, 1865, p. 392.) Clarence King: born at Newport, R. I., January 6, 1842; Yale (Sheffield) Scientific School, 1862; crossed the plains with James Terry Gardiner in 1863; served with Whitney and Brewer in California State Geological Survey, 1863-1866; in charge of Geological Survey of the Fortieth Parallel, 1867-1878; organized the United States Geological Survey and was its first chief, 1879-1881; subsequently mining geologist and traveler; intimate associate of John Hay and Henry Adams; died at Phoenix, Arizona, December 24, 1901. Published: Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, 1872, (first appeared in part in Atlantic Monthly, 1870; The Helmet of Mambrino, in Century Magazine, May, 1886; The Age of the Earth, in American Journal of Science, January, 1893; Systematic Geology, 1878; and others. (Clarence King Memoirs—The Helmet of Mamibrino, published for the King Memorial Committee of The Century Association, New York, 1904.—S. F. Emmons: The Life and Scientific Work of Clarence King, in Engineering and Mining Journal, January 4, 1902—U.S.G.S.: Twenty-third Annual Report, for 1902, pp. 198-206.—R. W. Raymond, in Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, XXXIII, 1903, pp. 619-650.—See, also, references to King in The Education of Henry Adams.

First ascent by Bolton Coit Brown, 1896. (S.C.B., 1897, II:2, pp. 94-97.)

“We found, after having traveled five leagues, the Rio de los Santos Reyes, which had been discovered in the previous year, 1805. (P. Muñoz: Diario de la expedicin hecha por Don Gabriel Moraga los Nuevos Descubrimientos del Tular, Sept. 21 to Nov. 2, 1806, in Bancroft Collection, Arch. Sta. Barb., Vol. IV, p. 27.)” (Richman: California Under Spain and Mexico, 1911, p. 465. —See, also, Chapman: History of California, 1921, pp. 419-420.)

Rio de los Santos Reyes signifies in Spanish “River of the Holy Kings,” and refers to the Magi, or three kings, called in the Bible the “wise men from the east,” who visited the infant Jesus (Matthew: 2:1-12). It is not unlikely that the name was given on the day of Epiphany as was the case in the naming of Point Reyes (Punta de los Reyes) on the California coast by Vizcaino in 1603.

“We crossed an open plain still in a southeasterly direction, reaching in about twenty miles the Tulare Lake River. This is the Lake Fork; one of the largest and handsomest streams in the valley, being about one hundred yards broad and having perhaps a larger body of fertile lands than any one of the others. It is called by the Mexicans the Rio de los Reyes. [December 22, 1845]” (Fremont: Memoirs, 1887, p. 448.)

There are three principal forks of Kings River: North, Middle, and South.

The main cañon of South Fork of Kings River, often compared to Yosemite Valley. (For analysis of comparison and general geological description, see, F. E. Matthes, in S.C.B., 1926, XII:3, pp. 224-236.)

Early history obscure. Probably seen by Captain John J. Kuykendall’s company of the Mariposa Battalion, 1881. (Bunnell: Discovery of the Yosemite, 1880, pp. 137-141.) Undoubtedly visited by early prospectors. Explored by Brewer party of Whitney Survey, 1864. (Whitney Survey: Geology, 1865, pp. 369, 391-392.) Account of a visit in 1868, by E. C. Winchell, in San Francisco Morning Call, September 11 and 12, 1872. (Reprinted in S.C.B., 1926, XII:3, pp. 237-249.)

John Muir visited it in 1873, 1875, and 1877; again, in 1891, and later. (Badè: Life and Letters of John Muir, 1923-1924, I, p. 392; II, pp. 89, 253— Muir: A Rival of the Yosemite, in Century Magazine, November, 1891.)

Joseph Le Conte visited the cañon in 1901. (Joseph Le Conte, in Sunset, October, 1900; reprinted in S.C.B., 1902; IV:2, pp. 88-99.)

First Sierra Club Outing to Kings River Cañon, 1902. (S.C.B., 1903, 1-3, pp. 185-192.—Hugh Gibson, in Out West, November, 1902.)

KOIP PEAK (13,000), CREST[Mount Lyell]
“Koip Peak, between Mono and Tuolumne counties, is probably, like near-by Kuna Peak, named from a Mono Indian word. Koipa is ‘mountain sheep’ in the closely related Northern Paiute dialect.” (Kroeber: California Place Names of Indian Origin, 1916, p. 45.)

Named by Willard D. Johnson, U.S.G.S., about 1883. (J. N. Le Conte.)

KUNA PEAK (12,951), CREST[Mount Lyell]
“Kuna Peak, between Tuolumne and Mono counties, is probably named from the Shoshonean word Kuna, usually meaning ‘fire,’ but appearing in the Mono dialect of the vicinity with the signification of ‘fire-wood’.” (Kroeber: California Place Names of Indian Origin, 1916, p. 45.)

Named by Willard D. Johnson, U.S.G.S., about 1883. (J. N. Le Conte.)

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Online Library: Title Author California Geology History Indians Muir Mountaineering Nature Management