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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. ]


MACLURE, MOUNT (13,000 approx.)[Mount Lyell]
“To the pioneer of American geology, William Maclure, one of the dominating peaks of the Sierra Nevada is very properly dedicated.” (Whitney: Yosemite Guide Book, 1870, p. 101.)

William Maclure, born in Scotland, 1763; visited United States in 1779 and again in 1796; planned a geological survey of the U. S.; crossed and recrossed the Alleghany Mountains fifty times; in Indiana in 1825; in 1827 moved to Mexico, where he died in 1840.

The spelling of the name on maps and in texts early became corrupted to “McClure.”

MACOMB RIDGE (9,950)[Dardanelles]
Lieutenant Montgomery Meigs Macomb, Fourth Artillery, U. S. Army, in charge of a party of the Wheeler Survey in California 1878-1879. Climbed Dunderberg, Conness, Lyell, Cathedral, Hoffmann, Clark, and Merced peaks in 1878. (Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers, War Department, for 1879, Appendix F of Appendix OO.) Born in Michigan, 1852; graduated U. S. Military Academy, second lieutenant, 1874; first lieutenant, 1879; captain, 1898; major, 1901; lieutenant-colonel, 1906; colonel, 1907; brigadier-general, 1910; retired, 1916; died, 1924. (Portrait in S.C.B., 1925, XII:2, plate XLVI.)

Madera is Spanish for wood, timber. County created March 11, 1893, from that part of Fresno County lying north and west of the San Joaquin River. (Coy: California County Boundaries, 1923, p. 157.)

MAGGIE, MOUNT (10,000)[Kaweah]
Named by Frank Knowles (the resident of Tulare County who accompanied Clarence King to Mount Whitney, 1873), for Maggie Kincaid (Mrs. Olevia, or Olivier), a well-known school-teacher of Tulare County. (Mrs. Minnie Elster, of Springville, in Porterville Messenger, November 29, 1924.—G. W. Stewart.)

MALLORY, MOUNT (13,870)[Mount Whitney]
Name proposed by Norman Clyde, who made first ascent, July, 1925; in memory of George H. Leigh Mallory, of the British Alpine Club, who was lost on Mount Everest, June, 1924, with Andrew C. Irvine, after attaining the highest altitude ever reached by a mountain climber (observed at over 28,000 feet), and may have reached the summit. Mallory was also a member of the 1921 and 1922 Mount Everest expeditions. (Mount Everest: The Reconnaissance, 1921, by C. K. Howard-Bury and others, 1922—The Assault on Mount Everest, 1922, by C. G. Bruce and others, 1923—The Fight for Everest: 1924, by E. F. Norton and others, 1925.—S.C.B., 1923, XI:4, pp. 430, 453-455; 1925, XII:2, pp. 182-183; 1926, XII:3, pp. 329-330.)

MARIE LAKE[Mount Goddard]
Named by R. B. Marshall, U.S.G.S., for Mary Hooper (Mrs. Frederick L. Perry), eldest daughter of Major William Burchell Hooper, and sister of Selden S. Hooper, U.S.G.S. (R. B. Marshall, Mrs. Mary Hooper Perry.)

“Directly at its foot was a beautiful lake, fringed with tiny meadows on one side, and guarded on the other by fine cliffs of white granite, which could be traced far down beneath the clear waters till lost in their blue depths.” (S.C.B., 1903, IV:4, p. 259.)

Named in 1902 by J. N. Le Conte for his wife, Helen Marion Gompertz Le Conte (1865-1924), who was with him on a pioneering trip up Cartridge Creek. (J. N. Le Conte.)

Mrs. Le Conte made many trips to the High Sierra; climbed many peaks, including first ascent of Split Mountain (South Palisade); a charter member of the Sierra Club. (Memoir by J. S. Hutchinson in S.C.B., 1925, XII:2, pp. 148-155, portrait.—Memorial on shore of Marion Lake, shown in S.C.B., 1926, XII:3, plate XCIV.)

Contrary to prevalent opinion, the name was not given on account of the mariposa lily, but on account of the great number of butterflies (Mariposas), found by Moraga’s expedition of 1806. (Sanchez: Spanish and Indian Place Names of California, 1922, pp. 322-323; and Chapman: History of California, 1921, pp. 421-422.)

The county was established in 1850, originally one of the largest in the state; reduced by creation of Tulare County, 1852, Merced County, 1855, and Fresno County, 1856. (Coy: California County Boundaries, 1923, pp. 161-165.)

Discovered May, 1857, by Galen Clark and Milton Mann. “As they were in Mariposa County, I named them the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees.” (Clark, in Yosemite Souvenir and Guide, published by D. G. Foley, Yosemite, first edition 1901, p. 97.)

Bunnell places the discovery by Clark and Mann in 1856. These, or other big trees in the vicinity, were known as early as 1855. (Bunnell: Discovery of the Yosemite, 1880, p. 335.) The Calaveras Grove was discovered in 1852.

The Mariposa Big Tree Grove was included in the grant to the State of California by act of Congress, June 30, 1864, and was administered as part of the Yosemite park under state management until 1906, when, by act of the State Legislature of March 3, 1905, and joint resolution of Congress, June 11, 1906, it became part of Yosemite National Park.

MARJORIE LAKE[Mount Whitney]
Marjorie Mott, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest J. Mott, of San Francisco. (E. J. Mott.)

William Markwood, a sheepman of the ’70s. (Chester Versteeg, from D. C. Sample.)

MARTHA LAKE[Mount Goddard]
Named by George R. Davis, U.S.G.S., in 1907, for his mother. (G. R. Davis.)

Named by S. L. N. Ellis for his son. (J. B. Agnew.)

Stephen Tyng Mather, director of the National Park Service, U. S. Department of the Interior, since the establishment of the office in 1917; Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior, in charge of national parks, 1915-1917; born in San Francisco, 1867; B.Litt., University of California, 1887; LL.D., George Washington University, 1922, University of California, 1924.

Named by Mr. and Mrs. Chauncey J. Hamlin, of Buffalo, N. Y., and party, August 25, 1921; probably the first party to use this pass with pack-train; used by Escallier, sheepman, with burro in 1897. (S.C.B., 1922, XI:3, p. 270; S.C.B., 1923, XI:4, p. 423.—See, also, S.C.B., 1909, VII:1, p. 19; 1923, XI:4, pp. 356-367.)

MAY LAKE[Mount Lyell]
Named by Charles F. Hoffmann, of the Whitney Survey, for Lucy Mayotta Browne, who became Mrs. Hoffmann in 1870; daughter of J. Ross Browne, California pioneer, mining engineer, and writer. Mrs. Hoffmann is now (1926) living in Oakland. (Ross E. Browne.)

McCABE LAKES[Mount Lyell]
Edward Raynsford Warner McCabe, born in Virginia, 1876; commissioned second lieutenant, U.S.A., 1900; first lieutenant, 1911; captain, 1916; major, 1920; lieutenant-colonel, 1920; colonel (temporary), 1918.

McCLURE LAKE[Mount Lyell]
Nathaniel Fish McClure, Lieutenant 5th Cavalry, U. S. Army, stationed in Yosemite National Park in 1894 and 1895. (N. F. McClure.)

“Lieutenant McClure, who was on duty in the park last year, prepared an excellent map of it, which has been of great service to detachments on duty in the park.” (Captain Alexander Rodgers, Acting Superintendent of Yosemite National Park, in Report for 1895, p. 5.)

Born in Kentucky, 1865; commissioned second lieutenant on graduation from West Point, 1887; colonel in 1916; brigadier-general, National Army, 1917-1918.

(See S.C.B., 1895, I:5, pp. 168-186; S.C.B., 1896, I:8, pp. 330-335; S.C.B 1921, XI:2, pp. 175-180.)

McCLURE MEADOW[Mount Goddard]
The largest of the meadows on Evolution Creek. Named for Wilbur F. McClure, California State Engineer, in recognition of his assistance in building the John Muir Trail. (S.C.B., 1916, X:1, p. 86.)

(See Miguel Meadow, Creek)

Thomas McIntyre, a pioneer of Tulare County, who ran sheep there, beginning 1880. (Chester Versteeg.)

Named by R. B. Marshall, U.S.G.S., for William McKinley, twenty-fifth President of the United States. (R. B. Marshall.)

MERCED RIVER, GROVE, LAKE, PEAK (11,722), PASS[Yosemite, Mount Lyell]
“The river was named by the Spaniards, in honor of the Virgin, El Rio de Nuestra Señora de la Merced (the river of our Lady of Mercy). This name was given to the stream by an exploring party under Sergeant Gabriel Moraga in 1806, as an expression of their joy and gratitude at the sight of its sparkling waters, after an exhausting journey of forty miles through a waterless country.” (Sanchez: Spanish and Indian Place Names of California, 1922, pp. 282-283.) Fremont called this river the Aux-um-ne'. (Fremont: Geographical Memoir upon Upper California, 1848, p. 17.—Fremont: Memoirs, 1887, p. 444.)

Merced Grove of big trees was discovered by surveyors for the Coulterville Road in 1871 or 1872 and named by the president of the Turnpike Company, John T. McLean. (Letter from J. T. McLean, 1899.) “In the last two days travelling we have found some trees of the Red-wood species, incredibly large —some of which would measure from 16 to 18 fathom round the trunk at the height of a man’s head from the ground.” (Narrative of the Adventures of Zenas Leonard, Written by Himself, Clearfield, Pa., 1839, reprinted and edited by W. F. Wagner, Cleveland, 1904, p. 180.) Leonard was with Joseph R. Walker’s party crossing the Sierra in 1833. His mention of the big trees is the earliest known and probably applies either to the Merced Grove or to the Tuolumne Grove. (Farquhar: Exploration of the Sierra Nevada, in California Historical Society Quarterly, March, 1925, IV:1, p. 7.)

Merced Lake was called by John Muir “Shadow Lake.” (Scribner’s Monthly, January 1879, p. 416.) “1 first discovered this charming lake in the autumn of 1872, while on my way to the glaciers at the head of the river.” (Muir: The Mountains of California,; 1894, p. 115.)

Merced Peak is also called “Black Mountain” in Whitney’s Yosemite Guide Book, 1870, p. 109. “The last name had, however, been previously given to the highest point of the mass of ridges and peaks at the southern extremity of the range, south of the divide between the San Joaquin and the Merced. All these points, except Gray Peak, have been climbed by the Geological Survey.”

“The range to which it [Mount Clark] belongs is sometimes called the Obelisk Group; but, oftener, the Merced Group, because the branches of that river head around it.” (Whitney: The Yosemite Book, 1868, p. 97.)

“Merced Peak (culminating point of Merced Group).” (Wheeler Survey: Geographical Report, 1889, p. 134.)

Merced Pass was found by Corporal Ottoway while scouting for Lieutenant Denson in 1895 and named by Benson. (H. C. Benson.)

MERCUR PEAK (8072)[Dardanelles]
Named by Colonel Forsyth in 1912 for James Mercur, professor of engineering, U. S. Military Academy; graduated U. S. Military Academy, second lieutenant, 1866; first lieutenant, 1867; captain, 1875; professor, 1884; died, 1896. (H. C. Benson.)

MICHIE PEAK (10,339)[Dardanelles]
Named by Colonel Forsyth in 1912 for Peter Smith Michie (1839-1900, professor of engineering, U. S. Military Academy; born in Scotland; graduated U. S. Military Academy, first lieutenant, 1863; captain, 1865; brevet for gallantry in Civil War; brigadier-general of volunteers, 1865; professor, 1871; Ph.D., Princeton, 1871; M.A., Dartmouth, 1873. (W. W. Forsyth.)


“The ranch belongs to Mr. Miguel D. Errera, but his American friends have corrupted Miguel into McGill.” (N. F. McClure, in S.C.B., 1895, I:5, p. 185.)

MILESTONE MOUNTAIN (13,643), BOWL[Mount Whitney]
The name is shown on Hoffmann’s map of 1873.

“Mount Langley . . . is known by a minaret, or obelisk, that seems to stand on the north edge of its summit. It is known among mountain prospectors as Milestone Mountain.” (Elliott: Guide to the Grand and Sublime Scenery of the Sierra Nevada, 1883, p. 50 The name Langley, given in 1881, was never in general use for this mountain, but was subsequently placed on another point.

First ascent, July 14, 1912, by William E. Colby, Robert M. Price, and Francis P. Farquhar. (S.C.B., 1913, IX:1, pp. 1-6.—See, also, S.C.B., 1922, XI:3, p. 313; and S.C.B., 1923, XI:4, p. 440.)

Milestone Bowl appears erroneously on U.S.G.S. maps as “Milestone Bow.”

“We were soon upon a plateau, and passed from this to a bowl-shaped mountain. And since this plateau and bowl have once been parts of Milestone, Prof. Dudley named them Milestone Plateau and Milestone Bowl.” (W. F. Dean, in Mt. Whitney Club Journal, 1902, No. 1, p. 16.)

MILLER LAKE[Mount Lyell]
Named by Lieutenant N. F. McClure in 1894 for a soldier in his detachment. (S.C.B., 1895, I:5, p. 174.)

MILLS, MOUNT (13,352)[Mount Goddard]
Darius Ogden Mills (1825-1910), California banker; founder of Millbrae, California; a charter member of the Sierra Club.

“The first mine located in the Mineral King region was discovered in 1872. By 1879 it was a large mining settlement, but the mines never proved productive. It was at first called Beulah, but when a mining district was organized there it was pronounced to be the king of mineral districts and given the name of Mineral King.” (G. W. Stewart.)

MINARETS[Mount Lyell]
“To the south of this [Mount Ritter] are some grand pinnacles of granite, very lofty and apparently inaccessible, to which we gave the name of ‘the Minarets’.” (Whitney: The Yosemite Book, 1868, p. 98.)

First ascent by Charles W. Michael, September 6, 1923. (S.C.B., 1924 XII:1, pp. 28-33.)

“Wai-ack was the name for ‘Mirror Lake,’ as well as for the mountain it so perfectly reflected. The lake itself was not particularly attractive or remarkable, but in the early morning, before the breeze swept up the cañon, the reflections were so perfect, especially of what is now known as Mt. Watkins, that even our scouts called our attention to it by pointing and exclaiming: ‘Look at Wai-ack,’ interpreted to mean the ‘Water Rock.’ This circumstance suggested the name of ‘Mirror Lake.’ The name was opposed by some, upon the ground that all still water was a mirror. My reply established the name. It was that other conditions, such as light and shade, were required, as when looking into a well, the wall of the Half Dome perfecting the conditions, and that when shown another pool that was more deserving, we would transfer the name. Captain Boling approved the name, and it was so called by the battalion.” (Bunnell: Discovery of the Yosemite, 1890, p. 204.)

“This lake was so named by Mr. C. H. Spencer, of Utica, New York (one of my comrades); and, shaded as it is by the Half Dome on the southeast and by Clouds Rest on the east, there may be seen reflected from its still water the most remarkable scenery and double sunrise in the world.” (Bunnell, in Biennial Report of the Commissioners to Manage Yosemite Valley, 1889-90, p. 11.)

Hutchings says the Indian name was Ah-wi-yah. (Scenes of Wonder and Curiosity in California, 1860, p. 102.) Whitney calls it Waiya. (Yosemite Guide Book, 1870, p. 17.) Powers says A-wai'a. ( Tribes of California, in Contributions to North American Ethnology, III, 1877, p. 365.)

MITCHELL PEAK (10,375)[Tehipite]
Susman Mitchell, of Visalia. (G. W. Stewart.)

Hyman Mitchell, of White River, father of Susman Mitchell. (J. B. Agnew.)

“These two beautiful lakes lie at the foot of Miner’s Peak (Sawtooth).” (Elliott: History of Fresno County, 1882, p. 235.)

MONO CREEK, PASS[Mount Goddard]

“Mono County and Lake are named after a wide-spread division of Shoshonean Indians on both slopes of the Southern Sierra Nevada. In speech and presumably in origin they are closely allied to the Northern Paiute of Nevada and Oregon and the Bannock of Idaho. By their Yokuts neighbors they are called Monachi. The ending -chi occurs otherwise in Yokuts and Miwok as a suffix on names of tribes or divisions. . . . The stem therefore appears to be Mona. To the Spaniards, who knew the Miwok and Yokuts earlier than they knew the Monachi, this stem might easily suggest mono, ‘monkey.’ . . . It appears that Monachi, like most of the names of the Yokuts for their own or other tribes, no longer possesses a determinable meaning.” (Kroeber: California Place Names of Indian Origin, 1916, p. 49.)

Mono County, established 1861, originally extended considerably to the southeast of its present boundary; adjusted on north, 1864, 1866, by creation of Alpine County; curtailed on south, 1866, 1870, by creation of Inyo County. (Coy: California County Boundaries, 1923, pp. 182-183.)

Established July 2, 1908, by proclamation of President Roosevelt; from parts of Stanislaus, Sierra, Tahoe, and Inyo national forests. Additions made by proclamation, March 2, 1909; adjustment of boundaries by proclamation, June 30, 1911. (Official Proclamations.)

Gus Moorehouse, a miner and prospector of the early days. (Chester Versteeg.)

MORAINE LAKE[Mount Whitney]
“Moraine Lake has no visible outlet that I could discover. It was formed in the bowl of a great gravelly, porous moraine, hence the name we gave it seemed particularly appropriate.” (William R. Dudley, in S.C.B., 1903, IV:4, p. 306.)

MORO ROCK (6,719)[Tehipite]
“Many have thought that the monolith’s name was given by early Spanish explorers. The resemblance to Morro Castle (Havana) and Morro Rock on the California coast lends color to this supposition; but the name apparently comes but indirectly from Castilian days. Mr. Swanson of Three Rivers in the sixties of the last century had a blue roan mustang—the color that the Mexicans call moro. This name was probably given because the Spaniards got these colored horses one time from the Moors or Moros. This moro pony of Swanson’s often ranged up under the rock and they called it ‘Moro’s Rock.’ The Spaniards called the Mohammedan Malays of the Philippines Moros. The word is probably a derivative of moreno, meaning brown, and was applied to the Moors and Malays because of their darkly pigmented skins.” (Letter from Colonel John R. White, Superintendent of Sequoia National Park, 1923.)

MORRISON, MOUNT (12,245)[Mount Morrison]
Robert Morrison, a merchant of Benton, Mono County, while a member of a posse pursuing escaped convicts, was killed by one of them, September 23, 1871, near Convict Lake. “A mighty peak that towers over the lake bears the name of Mount Morrison.” (Chalfant: The Story of Inyo, 1922, pp. 215-26.)

MOSES, MOUNT (9305)[Kaweah]
Named during a fishing trip many years ago, when an elderly member of the party was nicknamed “Moses.” This peak and Mount Maggie were named on the same occasion. (Chester Versteeg.)

MUIR, MOUNT (14,025), LAKE[Mount Whitney]
MUIR GORGE[Yosemite]
MUIR PASS[Mount Goddard]
“John Muir: born in Scotland, reared in the University of Wisconsin, by final choice a Californian, widely traveled observer of the world we dwell in, man of science and of letters, friend and protector of Nature, uniquely gifted to interpret unto other men her mind and ways.” (Benjamin Ide Wheeler, President of the University of California, in conferring the degree of Doctor of Laws on John Muir, Berkeley, California, May 14, 1913.)

Born April 21, 1838, at Dunbar, Scotland; son of Daniel and Anne Gilrye Muir; family came to America, 1849; settled in Wisconsin; attended University of Wisconsin, 1860-1863; walked to Florida, 1867; came to California from New York, via Panama, 1868; visited Yosemite, spring of 1868; “First Summer in the Sierra,” 1869; many years in Yosemite and the High Sierra; visited Alaska, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1890, 1897, 1899; around the world, 1903-1904; South America and Africa, 1911-1912, and many other travels; A.M. (hon.), Harvard, 1896, LL.D., University of Wisconsin, 1897; Litt.D., Yale, 1911; LL.D., University of California, 1913; author of many books and articles in periodicals (bibliography in S.C.B., 1916, X:1, pp. 41-59); president of the Sierra Club from its organization, 1892, until his death, 1914. (William Frederic Badè: The Life and Letters of John Muir, 2 Vols., 1923-1924.—S.C.B., 1916, X:1.)

Mount Muir was named by Professor Alexander G. McAdie. (J. N. Le Conte.) Climbed by Norman Clyde, June, 1925, who found a monument on the summit, but no written record. (S.C.B., 1926, XII:3, p. 306.)

Lake at head of Lone Pine Creek, east of Mount Muir. Here, in September, 1925, Dr. Robert A. Millikan, of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, conducted experiments for the study of cosmic rays. (Millikan: High Frequency Rays of Cosmic Origin, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, January, 1926, XII:1, pp. 48-55.) Two other expeditions directed by Dr. Millikan have conducted experiments in physics in this vicinity: one in September, 1922, near Whitney Pass; another at Cottonwood Lakes in September, 1924.

“We named this gorge Muir Gorge, after Mr. John Muir, the first man to go through the [Tuolumne] cañon.” (R. M. Price in S.C.B., 1895, I:6, 206.) Muir Grove was named by R. B. Marshall, U.S.G.S., in 1909. (R. B. Marshall.)

Muir Pass was named by R. B. Marshall, U.S.G.S. It is the only pass across the Goddard Divide and is traversed by the John Muir Trail. First crossed with pack-train by U.S.G.S. party under George R. Davis in 1907, although sheep were taken over it years before. (J. N. Le Conte; S.C.B., 1909, VII:1, p. 4.) (See John Muir Trail.)

Cyrus Mulkey, sheriff of Inyo County 1871-1874. (Chalfant: The Story of Inyo, 1922, pp, 213, 334.—S.C.B., 1893, I:1, p. 4.)

MURDOCK LAKE[Dardanelles]]
Named by N. F. McClure in 1895 for William C. Murdock, of the Board of Fish Commissioners, State of California. Small lake in line between Rodgers and Benson Lakes; shown on McClure’s map of March, 1896, and Benson’s map of 1897; omitted from early U.S.G.S. maps. (N. F. McClure.)

John L. Murphy took up a claim on the shore of Tenaya Lake and built a cabin there. (Hutchings: In the Heart of the Sierras, 1886, p. 481.—See, also, H. H. [Helen Hunt Jackson]: Bits of Travel at Home, 1878, pp. 109-171.)

MUSICK PEAK (6820)[Kaiser]
Named for either Henry or Charles Musick, both of whom were connected with the mill company at Shaver. Erroneously spelled “Music” on maps. (L. A. Winchell.)

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