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 Information Entries for Mt. Wilson and Name History

Name History (El Diente Peak)



Title: Naming of El Diente Peak

Entered by: 14erFred

Added: 05/14/2010, Last Updated: 05/14/2010

Sources: Hart, J.L.J. (1977). Fourteen thousand feet: A history of the naming and early ascents of the high Colorado peaks (Second Edition). Denver, CO: The Colorado Mountain Club.

El Diente, which is Spanish for the "the tooth," was named by San Juan mountaineer Dwight Lavender (c. 1911-1934) for its appearance from the south. The mountain had earlier been known locally as "The Jag" and "Montezuma Peak" (Hart, 1977, p. 38 ).

Name History (Mt. Wilson)



Title: Naming of Mt. Wilson

Entered by: 14erFred

Added: 05/14/2010, Last Updated: 05/14/2010

Sources: Foster, M., Editor. (1984). Summits to reach: Report on the topography of the San Juan Country by Franklin Rhoda. Boulder, CO: Pruett Publishing Company. Hart, J.L.J. (1977). Fourteen thousand feet: A history of the naming and early ascents of the high Colorado peaks (Second Edition). Denver, CO: The Colorado Mountain Club.

The mountain was named not for President Woodrow Wilson, as some have suggested, but for A.D. Wilson, chief topographer of the U.S. Government's Hayden Survey of 1873-75 (for whom nearby Wilson Peak was also named). Wilson was one of the foremost geographers and mountaineers of the 19th century. He not only helped to chart the topography of Colorado's highest mountains, but also made the first ascent of five Colorado 14ers (Uncompahgre, Sneffels, Sunshine, and Mt. Wilson, in 1874; and Handies in 1875) and the second ascent of two others (Rainier in 1870, and Blanca in 1875).

Allen David Wilson was born in Sparta, Illinois, on September 17, 1844, but traveled with his family to the Pacific Northwest via the Oregon Trail in the spring of 1850. He left college in 1867 before graduating, in order to become an assistant topographer with the Geological Survey of California. There he learned the art of surveying by triangulation and mastered special techniques for extending continuous triangles across alpine country. From 1868 to 1872, he worked as assistant topographer for the US Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, spending the winters in Washington helping to prepare maps and publications.

In the fall of 1872, he collaborated with several other members of this survey team to expose the infamous Great Diamond Swindle. Two prospectors arrived in San Francisco claiming to have found diamond mines worth millions of dollars. They led an eager group of potential investors to a prearranged site that had been "salted" with gemstones that the swindlers had previously purchased abroad for about $30,000. After finding diamonds in soil samples, several very respectable financiers formed an investment syndicate that bought out the promoters for $600,000. By some shrewd detective work, Wilson and his colleagues determined that the alleged mines had to be in territory examined that very summer by the Fortieth Parallel Survey. Finding it hard to believe that such riches had been found under the noses of expert geologists by a couple of lucky prospectors, Wilson and the others secretly returned to the field and found a site staked out, complete with a sprinkling of diamonds, in the NW corner of Colorado. They spent the next two days systematically studying the soil, before concluding that a terrible fraud had been perpetrated. They returned immediately by train to San Francisco with their evidence, exposed the unpleasant details, and saved further loss by new investors.

On July 10, 1879, Wilson was appointed chief topographer for the US Geological Survey. He served in this position for two years, preparing maps of the area around Leadville, Colorado, and of the nearby Mosquito Range. Because of Wilson's wide-ranging experience in Colorado and his outstanding reputation, no one was surprised when in 1885 the General Land Office called on him to settle a dispute about Colorado's western border, the 109th meridian. During the official survey of 1878, the topographer, Rollin Reeves, had been unable for 11 nights to take observations on the North Star to keep him on a true north course (due to bad weather). As a result, he strayed 11 degrees too far west for nearly 8 miles; and this survey error had given Colorado a 100-mile chunk of Utah. Wilson's resurvey of part of the 109th meridian confirmed the mistake, but since Reeves' survey was official, the border remained and is today still unchanged.

Deliberate and careful in all aspects of his career, Wilson was likewise prudent in his private life. He did not marry until 1895, at the age of 50. His wife was Amelia Stevens, daughter of a prominent California pioneer who had built a substantial shipping business. Wilson died of influenza on February 21, 1920, at the age of 75.


Name History (San Juan Mountains)



Title: Eolus

Entered by: wojtekrychlik

Added: 01/21/2014, Last Updated: 01/21/2014


Aeolus was the ruler of the winds, according to Greek mythology.

Name History (Wilson Peak)



Title: Naming of Wilson Peak

Entered by: 14erFred

Added: 05/14/2010, Last Updated: 05/14/2010

Sources: Foster, M., Editor. (1984). Summits to reach: Report on the topography of the San Juan Country by Franklin Rhoda. Boulder, CO: Pruett Publishing Company. Hart, J.L.J. (1977). Fourteen thousand feet: A history of the naming and early ascents of the high Colorado peaks (Second Edition). Denver, CO: The Colorado Mountain Club.

The mountain was named not for President Woodrow Wilson, as some have suggested, but for A.D. Wilson, chief topographer of the U.S. Government's Hayden Survey of 1873-75 (for whom nearby Mt. Wilson was also named). Wilson was one of the foremost geographers and mountaineers of the 19th century. He not only helped to chart the topography of Colorado's highest mountains, but also made the first ascent of five Colorado 14ers (Uncompahgre, Sneffels, Sunshine, and Mt. Wilson, in 1874; and Handies in 1875) and the second ascent of two others (Rainier in 1870, and Blanca in 1875).

Allen David Wilson was born in Sparta, Illinois, on September 17, 1844, but traveled with his family to the Pacific Northwest via the Oregon Trail in the spring of 1850. He left college in 1867 before graduating, in order to become an assistant topographer with the Geological Survey of California. There he learned the art of surveying by triangulation and mastered special techniques for extending continuous triangles across alpine country. From 1868 to 1872, he worked as assistant topographer for the U.S. Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, spending the winters in Washington helping to prepare maps and publications.

In the fall of 1872, he collaborated with several other members of this survey team to expose the infamous Great Diamond Swindle. Two prospectors arrived in San Francisco claiming to have found diamond mines worth millions of dollars. They led an eager group of potential investors to a prearranged site that had been "salted" with gemstones that the swindlers had previously purchased abroad for about $30,000. After finding diamonds in soil samples, several very respectable financiers formed an investment syndicate that bought out the promoters for $600,000. By some shrewd detective work, Wilson and his colleagues determined that the alleged mines had to be in territory examined that very summer by the Fortieth Parallel Survey. Finding it hard to believe that such riches had been found under the noses of expert geologists by a couple of lucky prospectors, Wilson and the others secretly returned to the field and found a site staked out, complete with a sprinkling of diamonds, in the NW corner of Colorado. They spent the next two days systematically studying the soil, before concluding that a terrible fraud had been perpetrated. They returned immediately by train to San Francisco with their evidence, exposed the unpleasant details, and saved further loss by new investors.

On July 10, 1879, Wilson was appointed chief topographer for the U.S. Geological Survey. He served in this position for two years, preparing maps of the area around Leadville, Colorado, and of the nearby Mosquito Range. Because of Wilson's wide-ranging experience in Colorado and his outstanding reputation, no one was surprised when in 1885 the General Land Office called on him to settle a dispute about Colorado's western border, the 109th meridian. During the official survey of 1878, the topographer, Rollin Reeves, had been unable for 11 nights to take observations on the North Star to keep him on a true north course (due to bad weather). As a result, he strayed 11 degrees too far west for nearly 8 miles; and this survey error had given Colorado a 100-mile chunk of Utah. Wilson's resurvey of part of the 109th meridian confirmed the mistake, but since Reeves' survey was official, the border remained and is today still unchanged.

Deliberate and careful in all aspects of his career, Wilson was likewise prudent in his private life. He did not marry until 1895, at the age of 50. His wife was Amelia Stevens, daughter of a prominent California pioneer who had built a substantial shipping business. Wilson died of influenza on February 21, 1920, at the age of 75.

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