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As It Was: Forest Service Employees Choose Early Place Names

In the early days of mapping, between 1907 and 1930, there were plenty of places left to name in the Rogue River National Forest.  Employees had to come up with something to call the remaining streams, gaps and peaks without official names.

Some employees honored friends and family.  That’s how three unnamed prominent peaks on the Cascade Crest became Ruth, Ethel and Maude.  Lee C. Port named them after his wife and two other Forest Service spouses. 

Mount Emily, a peak on the ridge between the Middle Fork and Butte Fork of the Applegate River, was officially named Mount M. L. E for Martin L. Erickson, first deputy supervisor of the Crater National Forest. 

Two Forest Service geologists with middle names of Annie named Annie Creek, a tributary of Ashland Creek.  Some names were descriptive such as Middle-of-Hell Gulch, named by rangers familiar with the steep, brush-covered canyon of the upper Applegate drainage. 

By the mid-1930s, the Forest Service ended arbitrary naming by requiring official approval of proposed names. After 1980, new place names tended to commemorate Native American groups, chiefs, or significant settlers.

Source: LaLande, Jeff. “From Abbott Butte to Zimmerman Burn, A Place-Name History and Gazetteer of the Rogue River National Forest.” Vol. 2, Medford Ore., USDA Forest Service, 1995, Second Edition.

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Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.