Could the 14,000-foot Kit Carson Mountain in southern Colorado get a new name?

John Daley/CPR News
The Crestone group of peaks in the Sangre de Cristo, as seen from Mount Lindsey, includes some of the most difficult 14ers in Colorado.

A new proposal to rename Kit Carson Mountain, located in southern Colorado's Sangre de Cristo range, is based on the contested history of the famed Army officer. It references Carson’s violence against Navajo and Apache tribes in the 1800s.

Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board member Dr. William Wei said the suggested name – Frustum Peak - isn’t offensive. A frustum is a geometric term for a flat-topped cone or pyramid. 

“But it doesn't seem to resonate,” he said. “I propose that we make it a placeholder until we come up with a more appropriate name that might actually honor a worthy person or event.”

The U.S. Forest Service and the Navajo Nation provided statements in support of renaming the mountain, but did not specify if they supported the proposed name.

Saguache County commissioners did not take a position on the matter.

Jennifer Runyon of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names said previous efforts to give the peak a new name had confusing issues that complicated the process.

“So the geography of that area is very convoluted and it's not really clear, depending on the sources you look at,” she said. “Are we talking about a range, a ridge or a single point?”

She said she needs to do more research, including reviewing the previous proposals. Those involved different names, including Mount Crestone, which refers to the adjacent summits known as Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle.

The Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board is expected to take up the proposal again in January. This follows the recent renaming of another Colorado fourteener to Mt. Blue Sky.

Other items on the board’s November agenda included updates of outstanding renaming recommendations: Redskin Mountain to Mount Jerome, Redskin Creek to Ute Creek, both in Park and Jefferson counties, Negro Draw to Robinson Draw in Montezuma County, and Dead Mexican Gulch to Jose Belardi Gulch in Garfield County.

Related coverage