Once upon a time, the lands around here were explored by people from other parts of the world, including from parts of Europe where they have to put names on everything. And many times explorers and adventurers, representing the King or Queen or POTUS of their homelands would attach the name of that royal personage or their own name on a large piece of land or body of water. Lake Louise, Mount Ranier, Bering Straits, Jamestown, Queens and even a little burg (larger back then) known as Elizabethtown in the Romero Valley of New Mexico.
Well, as luck would have it, the Europeans coming into what would become New Mexico gave some names to some of the mountains around here such as Wheeler Peak but the use of proper names was not so strong as many others were named for existing conditions, such as Trampas, Vallecito and Truchas. I mean, those are connected to things and events and beliefs, but not so much proper names. Then the mountain east of the Pecos River Canyon a low and massive hump of land with a barely discernible peak from below, but long deep snow cover in the winter, came to be called Elk Mountain. Now I am not a betting man but I believe at least 31 states of our 50 have a hill or mountain by that name. And that’s fine because names of things are used over and over in different areas and locations. Imagine my surprise when as a young boy I found out that the Broadway I lived on in Fremont Nebraska was not the biggest well-known Broadway around.
Now begins the saga as Elk Mountain has been properly named for many a year, but then politics sometimes gets in the middle of things and ruins them completely. Or improves them if you are of a certain ethnic or gender based group that depends on laws (borne out of political angst) to get to live your life in our bent out of shape country. Just last night I heard a guy say, on TV (a hallowed soap box from which to spread rumors and lies), that we are not a nation of immigrants but we are a WHITE nation. Wow, what box did that guy crawl out of? And what about Elephant Butte?
So the people sitting in Washington said one day that they had a compunction to honor some of their favorite sons-in-law (Kushner?) and sons of the Third Wife (Barron?) so the renaming began in earnest. Lake-of-the-Woods became Flynn Pond. Georgia was retitled Jaredland. The Smoky Mountains became Ivanka’s Ridge and so on and so on. Then they started seeing things named after animals and old Native American names, which they knew they could ignore because no descendants held any power over the 45 Regime and they would have little resistance. So Lake Peak, just above little Santa Fe, became Pence Mountain and Elk Mountain became Davidduke Hill. After several years of this renaming process the people were so confused and left in the dark that some of the information did not get circulated on a timely basis and National Park maps, for which there was no budget, started coming out with the new names. It was a tedious process to pore over those maps to find out what had been changed. There was an element of disbelief when many landmarks and lakes and streams and mountains and cities and states all of a sudden were named something else.
And who pray tell would represent the Elks, except maybe that old group of beer drinking guys that have clubs all over the country (Elks Lodges, each with a distinct charter and number) and all of the actual elk that live and propagate on those same mountains (except where they have been hunted out completely). Well, as fate would dictate, the Elks Lodge guys were not well enough organized to make a difference but the elk animals were very upset. They started dodging bullets and arrows with abandon and refusing to be shot for antler trophies and meat. The cost to the people who hunt elk was tremendous and the lack of meat on the table was a big wakeup call to all. And the elk, without the process of elimination that comes from being hunted, grew in population to where they were asking about homesteading on new lands and setting up new elk villages all over the place, even near Tucson and El Paso and areas where they were not expected.
This situation became a huge news item and of course many were confused because they thought it might be fake news and all. But it was the real deal. The story got even more weird when all the bald guys in American go up in arms because of all the mountains with Baldy in the name (and there were quite a few) that were renamed after 45’s various resorts and golf courses around the globe. Bald guys are not the type to offend and slight, let me tell you. So stay tuned for the Baldy Saga coming to a movie house near you.