Press-Republican

February 22, 2014

Grace Peak gets closer

LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

ELIZABETHTOWN — Members of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers Inc. are getting closer to naming an Adirondack mountain for group founder Grace Hudowalski.

She was the volunteer historian who ran the 46ers office for decades, corresponding with hikers who hoped to conquer the state’s 46 highest mountains and sending patches to those who completed the set.

She died in 2004 at age 98.

Elizabethtown resident Sandra Weber recently told the Essex County Board of Supervisors that the campaign to name a Town of North Hudson mountain Grace Peak, in honor of Hudowalski, is almost complete.

The mountain is now called East Dix.

Weber thanked Supervisor Ronald Moore (R-North Hudson) and the Board of Supervisors for embracing Hudowalski’s legacy by supporting the name change.

“You have set in motion a landslide of good will.”

Moore said the North Hudson Town Council passed a resolution to name Grace Peak in honor of a lifetime of dedication by Hudowalski. The Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a similar resolution.

NEEDS FEDERAL OK

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names must approve the Grace Peak redesignation, but Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) said he has been told there shouldn’t be a problem with that.

He said the New York State Committee on Geographic Names also supports the change.

“The state is ready to move forward with this. I don’t see an issue with the state.”

The 46ers have also asked that South Dix in North Hudson be renamed Carson Peak, for Russell Carson (1884-1961), the author of “Peaks and People of the Adirondacks.”

MUSEUM PIECES

Weber said she donated some of Hudowalski’s belongings to the Adirondack History Center Museum in Elizabethtown for an exhibit.

“Those items include Grace’s writing desk and chair, on which she wrote letters to thousands and thousands of people. That’s going to bring people like you never imagined to this region.”

Weber believes people who knew about Hudowalski’s efforts or corresponded with her will visit the museum to view the exhibit.

EXPERIENCED CLIMBER

Hudowalski was born in Ticonderoga and raised in Minerva.

She was travel promotion supervisor for the New York State Department of Commerce from 1948 until her retirement in 1961.

The first woman to climb the 46 Adirondack Mountains higher than 4,000 feet in elevation, she was also the ninth person in all to do so.

She made her first ascent of Mt. Marcy, the state’s highest peak, on Aug. 2, 1922, and completed her climbs of the 46 High Peaks at Mt. Esther on Aug. 26, 1937.

She was a founding member of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers Inc. and organized its first meeting on May 30, 1948.

The club’s first president, she served from 1948 to 1951. Hudowalski was also the club’s historian, a position she held until her death.

As historian, Hudowalski established a ledger system to monitor the progress of hikers seeking membership in the Adirondack 46ers.

She maintained personal correspondence with each climber, writing thousands of letters each year to the more than 5,000 hikers who climbed the 46 High Peaks, Weber said.

If approved, Grace Peak would be only the second High Peak named for a woman. The other is Esther Mountain in Wilmington, named for Esther McComb, the first recorded person to climb it, in 1839.

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com