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January 14, 2014

Hero recalled by Lewis peak's name change

LEWIS — The U.S. Board of Geographic Names has approved a local historian’s request to rename Slip Mountain as MacDonough Mountain in honor of a War of 1812 hero.

James Bailey, who retired after 28 years as City of Plattsburgh historian, petitioned the Board of Geographic Names for the name change, which was also endorsed by the Lewis Town Council.

The mountain in Lewis had carried the name in the past, he said.

“I’m guessing it was over a year ago that I saw MacDonough on a Verplanck Colvin map of the Adirondacks, just north of Saddle Mountain, which is today’s Saddleback Mountain, in the Town of Lewis,” Bailey said by email. 

“And then, curious, I looked and found it on other late 1800s, such as Stoddard’s, maps.”

He discovered the USGS had changed the name to Slip Mountain in 1953 but could find no historical context for doing so.

FALSE INTELLIGENCE

In the Jay Mountain Range, the peak is the closest to Lake Champlain. Bailey said that encouraged him to try to change it back to MacDonough, in honor of Commodore Thomas MacDonough, commander of the victorious American fleet in the Battle on Plattsburgh Bay in Lake Champlain on Sunday, Sept. 11, 1814.

“This action determined the outcome — a draw — of the War of 1812, signed by treaty on Christmas Eve in Ghent, Belgium,” Bailey said.

“We are restoring a name that was properly and honorably given 140 years ago. It is fitting, too, that the mountain is in Lewis, which has elements of the War of 1812.”

The hero’s name has been spelled both Macdonough and MacDonough according to historical documents, he said.

Bailey said that going north from Elizabethtown on Route 9, just after the “Welcome to Lewis” sign, is Barber’s Pond on the left, with a historical marker noting it was the birthplace of Roman Catholic Bishop Edgar Wadhams.

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