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Rename Boott Spur to Mount Reagan?


Staff member
Jul 1, 2001

Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson . . . Mt. Reagan?

Law maker wants to rename peak
Sunday, October 27, 2002

By Annmarie Timmins
Monitor staff
A group wants to name something in each state for Ronald Reagan. In New Hampshire, supporters have chosen a crag of Mount Washington for the honor.
Francis Boott was 24, Harvard educated and fascinated with local flora when he accepted an invitation in 1816 to join an exploration party up Mount Washington. His efforts clearly impressed someone: When Boott was nearly 70 and living in England, the state named a crag of Mount Washington for him. It's called Boott Spur.

That history, however, may soon become history.

State Rep. Ken Weyler, a Kingston Republican, has submitted legislation to rename Boott Spur, which sits above Tuckerman Ravine, Mount Reagan, after the 40th president. It's part of a national effort by the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, which wants every state to name at least one thing for the Gipper.

So far, there's a Ronald Reagan Freeway in California, the Ronald Reagan Miracle Ranch in Indiana and Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.

Weyler, a passionate Reaganite, is determined to add to that list. And he's not discouraged by the opposition that's brewing, namely from outdoorsy types who suggested this week that Reagan's environmental record might make his name more appropriate for the Seabrook nuclear power plant. Nor is Weyler worried about federal regulations that say Reagan must be dead five years to get his name on a mountain or any other part of the country's natural landscape.

For Weyler, who spent his 30 years in the Air Force believing he'd end up in war

against the Soviet Union, Reagan is deserving because he was a president of peace.

He chose Boott Spur with the help of research assistants, he said, because it's in the Presidential Range and is among the highest points in the state. Also, he figured it wouldn't attract as much attention as another, better-known peak, like Franklin.

"The first president who effectively ended the Cold War was Ronald Reagan," Weyler said last week. "I think all of us in New Hampshire have benefited from Ronald Reagan. Every man, woman and child has benefited from that."

Boott Spur first appeared on state maps around 1860. Nearby, there's also a Bigelow's Lawn, named for Dr. Jacob Bigelow, who accompanied Boott on the expedition.

Weyler will find plenty of people who love his idea of renaming the spur to honor Reagan. After all, just before the September primary, four of the seven Republican candidates for John E. Sununu's congressional seat named Reagan as the politician they'd most like to emulate.

Michael Bellville a car salesman in Littleton, is already dedicated to the cause.

"Ronald Reagan is my hero," he said. "Had we listened to Oliver North in 1987 when he told Sen. Al Gore that Osama bin Laden was the most evil man on the planet, maybe we would have averted disaster. And there's his trickle down theory. He put more money in taxpayers' pockets, which led to more spending and more jobs.

"I'll petition," said Bellville. "I'll go anywhere to do what we need to, to get this passed."

Still, Mount Reagan isn't a done deal.

It's going to face a fight from many of the state's hikers - and from those who recall Reagan's tenure less fondly. A reporter's inquiry on a hiking Web site netted 13 responses within a few hours, one from as far away as Canada. In addition to the Seabrook plant, they said Regan's legacy might be better attached to Mount Deception - or a savings and loan on the brink.

"This idea is disgraceful," wrote Jeff Lee, a bank vice president in Connecticut who's been hiking in the White Mountains for 40 years. "Reagan did more damage to the environment than any of his predecessors, and to rename Boott Spur for him, in the midst of one of the most splendid scenic wilderness areas in the East, would be far worse than simply ironic. It would be a perfect example of doublespeak."

A man who identified himself only as Walt, offered this: "It seems to me that if a mountain must be named after Reagan, it should be one that is privately owned, with no access by the general public permitted. To do otherwise would betray his legacy of privatization."

Karen Testerman, a Mont Vernon woman who is helping Weyler, suggested yesterday that such critics take a longer view of their former president.

"Environmentalism is only one segment of our society," she said. "Here's a man who has contributed to our overall society (with peace efforts and tax restructuring). We should recognize that."

Not all criticism was politically motivated.

Unlike Weyler, who thought the Boott in Boott Spur was a misspelled reference to footwear, the hiking community knows the story of Francis Boott. Just like they know Tuckerman Ravine was named for Edward Tuckerman, a botanist, and that Mount Willey recalls a family who died in a landslide in 1826.

Erasing Boott's name will erase history, they said.

"If we rename things every few generations, all that is lost," one man said via e-mail. "If the name Boott is lost, no one would bother telling the story of the guy."

Eric Jackel, who hikes the Whites regularly from his family's home in Glen, initially thought Weyler was committing no more an offense than that of the white settlers who replaced the peak names given by Native Americans. But he concluded that Francis Boott, at least, made a contribution to the area that bears his name. He's not sure Reagan has the same connection.

"I think we have to continue to remember the pioneers of the mountains and give them their due," he said.

These aren't new arguments. Mark Hounsell, a former state senator from Conway, heard the same complaints in 1985, when he tried to rename South Moat mountain in Albany for Reagan.

The Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, which is heading up the national renaming effort, hadn't been conceived yet; Hounsell was motivated simply out of adoration for Reagan, who was president at the time.

"In New Hampshire we name mountains after presidents - that's what we do," said Housell last week, clearly excited someone new had taken up the cause. "There is absolutely no question that Ronald Reagan is deserving of this honor. His wisdom went beyond politics. I recognize Ronald Reagan as a godsend."

Despite his enthusiasm, Hounsell effectively killed his own proposal back in 1985 after attending a hearing on the idea. No one liked it, but not because they disliked Reagan, Hounsell said. They simply didn't want to give up the name South Moat - located near North Moat and Middle Moat.

Hounsell abandoned his idea rather than find another mountain, but word of his efforts reached the White House. When Reagan visited the state the next year, White House staff members asked Hounsell to be his official greeter at the Manchester airport.

"I was the first one to see him off Air Force One," Hounsell said. "But we didn't talk about the mountain."

Should Weyler succeed in Concord, he'll face a bigger fight in Washington.

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names is particular about the naming of America's natural landscape. Otherwise, mapping would be chaos.

The first rule requires the namesake - Ronald Reagan - to be dead five years before his name claims any mountain, river, even rock. Roger Payne, executive secretary of the office, sounded perfectly panicked last week by the idea that anyone would challenge that.

"It can never happen," Payne said. "Not even for a president. It's simply not possible."

For example, his board has been sitting on New Hampshire's request to rename Blue Mountain in Colebrook for Vickie Bunnell, the woman killed by gunman Carl Drega in 1987. The fifth-year anniversary of her death just passed. Payne will bring the Bunnell Mountain proposal to the next board meeting.

Payne explained the rationale behind the five-year rule. "This is a cooling off period so that emotion of the instant does not prevail."

Weyler is willing to wait. Still, he, Testerman and Hounsell argue that Reagan has contributed enough to deserve a place on Mount Washington. Now. They say common sense, not emotion, tells them so.

"It's nice to tell people when they are around that they have the support," Hounsell said.

In fact, the folks at the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project have maybe the most curious argument for sidestepping the government's five-year rule. It assumes Reagan's illness makes him as good as dead.

"My boss always makes the point that Reagan's career is over because he's not in the position to do anything to change his legacy because of his Alzheimer's," said Paul Prososki, deputy director of communications.

"We can talk about his legacy (even though he's alive) because he can't do anything to change it, just like a dead person can't. Jimmy Carter is still out there doing things that could change his legacy. Ronald Reagan can't. We make the argument that it's not too early."
(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 224-5301, ext. 323, or by e-mail at atimmins@cmonitor.com.)



New member
Jul 10, 2001
Ashland, NH
State Rep. Ken Weyler, a Kingston Republican
no surprise there.

i think renaming peaks is an aweful thing. look at the confusion pierce/clinton STILL involves. i still have to think hard before i know which one is the current name, and i wasn't even born when they changed it i don't think (at the least i wasn't hiking!).

boott spur is such a cool name for a crag too. i would never call it by any other name. at this rate, in a couple hundred years all of the 4000 footers will have been renamed for presidents. lame. the origins of the presi names (with exception of pierce/clinton) were original names, not renames post a current presidents death. this is distirbing yet unsurprising. if reagan deserves a peak renamed after him, so does every other president. i vote none of them deserve to have anything renamed after name.

now and original name, that would be fine as with the recent Reagan Aircraft Carrier.

Mike P.

Jul 1, 2001
Ummmm NO!

WIll Slide Peak be re-named for James Watt, his partner in crimes against the Interior? (In Hindsight Watt may have benefited the Interior due to the outrage his appointment caused & how better organized Environmental Groups became.)

Did the Accounting Standards People rename or create any FASB (Acounting Standards) after Reaganomics?

Gov't buildings, ships, I'm okay with, Mounatins, Wilderness Parks, no.


Mount Reagan

Given Reagan’s legacy of savaging the environment, it is especially ironic that Weyler has selected a pristine mountain peak to honor the former chief executive. The man who appointed James Watt as secretary of the interior has no business being honored with such a dedication. Let it never be said though that I am unreasonable person. I’m willing to meet Weyler half-way by renaming Boott Spur “Mount Pollution” or possibly “Mount Erosion” in honor of Reagan’s contributions to environmental preservation.


Proposal to rename Boott Spur for Ronald Reagan

:angry: The undoubtedly well-intentioned proposal by Rep. Weyler to rename Boott Spur Mount Reagan is further evidence of the abject historical infantilism that infects our populace. Leaving aside partisan considerations for the moment (and you will be able to deduce where I stand on this later in this posting), the proposal is shamefully disrespectful to the legacy and the descendants of Dr. Francis Boott, a true White Mountain pioneer. Dr. Boott was one of the comparative few who can stake a legitimate claim to significantly enhancing our understanding of the natural history of the White Mountains. He helped to identify several species of plants during his forays to the Whites, and undertook an ascent of Mt. Washington in 1816, at a time when any ascent was a serious, risky, and lengthy proposition. In other words, he has a real and enduring place in White Mountain history, and deserves to have a prominent feature named after him. To simply erase him from White Mountain cartography in a Kremlin-esque maneuver borders on the disgusting.

What does this say about the capacity of folks like Rep. Weyler, a supposedly well-educated and learned fellow, to understand our common history and evolution? Is he really that lazy so as to not conduct some basic research before submitting his proposal, research that would have helped him to understand why Boott Spur bears its name? Grotesque!

Now, as for partisanship, anyone with any sense fully realizes Ronald Reagan's contempt for public lands, environmentalists, environmental issues and justice, and just about anything that stood in the way of enriching his wealthy benefactors. He did nothing, repeat nothing, to benefit the White Mountains (yes, I am aware that he signed the bill authorizing the creation of the Pemigewasset Wilderness Area, but that initiative did not come from him or his administration, and his role was purely ceremonial). If you must, name some other feature after him--a stretch of I-93 or I-89, a federal courthouse, perhaps. But, keep your bloody mitts off our mountains! Rep. Weyler, you will be contested on this, I assure you. Your effort will ultimately prove to be quixotic!


give mt regan the boot?

reagan is already well commemorated in stone. On the Fortress Wall of the
Red River Gorge,Powell or Menifee County Kentucky there is an awkward 5.6 appropriately called "Bed Time for Bonzo" I will communicate some references for this popular climb. :beer: