Park director wants to take 'Mount' out of 'Mount Katahdin'

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine (AP) — The director of the Baxter State Park Authority is floating the idea dropping the "Mount" from Maine's "Mount Katahdin."

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Eben Sypitkowski told Piscataquis County Commissioners in an email that Katahdin was named by the Penobscot Indians and means "greatest mountain." Therefore, he said there's no need for the word "Mount." That's redundant, akin to calling it "Mount Greatest Mountain," he said.

He got a tepid response.

Chairman James White said commissioners this week weren't convinced the Katahdin name change is necessary — especially considering the cost of changing maps and signs. "If someone presents us with an actual evidence of a need, then we'll revisit the situation," White said. "But I don't think it'll go anywhere."

Sypitkowski wrote that he reached out to the USGS Board of Geographic Names about changing the name of the summit. He told commissioners he wanted feedback on a township that also bears the Mount Katahdin name.

He said Thursday that the proposal has not been endorsed by the board of the Baxter State Park Authority. It'll be discussed at a meeting on Oct. 4. He also said he's talking to the Penobscot Indian Nation about the idea.

"While we have been using the words Mount Katahdin for 200 years, the Penobscot Nation has been referring to one of the most sacred parts of their mythos for several thousand years," he said. "I don't think this proposal harms anyone but it does offer respect to the indigenous peoples who hold this place sacred."

The state's tallest mountain is the northern terminus of Appalachian Trail, and is popular with hikers. Naturalist Henry David Thoreau climbed the mountain in the 1840s and wrote about his experience in his book, "The Maine Woods."

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