John Denver: Petition to name peak after him armed with 2,800 signatures and ready to mail

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We are one step closer to having a peak near Carbondale named after Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., who was born in Roswell, New Mexico. You probably know him as John Denver, which is the actual name the eastern peak of Mt. Sopris will take if J.P. McDaniel has her way. This week, she's reportedly mailing a petition requesting a name change to the U.S. Board of Geographical Names Tuesday.

McDaniel claims to have collected 2,300 signatures through an online petition and another 500 in hard-copy form that support christening the peak after the former singer and Aspen resident. She says naming the peak is inspired by Denver's environmental and humanitarian efforts, not his musical success. The effort picked up steam after the first round of media coverage in mid-July.

McDaniel also notes that the petition doesn't seek to rename Mt. Sopris, but rather name the eastern peak of the twin-summit mountain John Denver Peak. If the name change is accepted, both names would appear on official federal maps and charts. McDaniel told the Aspen Times she hopes to have an answer from the the U.S. Board of Geographical Names before the annual Aspen event in October that celebrates Denver.

McDaniel says she chose Mt. Sopris because Denver wrote much of his hit "Rocky Mountain High," one of Colorado's two official songs, while camping at nearby Williams Lake. The mountain is also visible from the Windstar Land Conservancy, almost 1,000 acres of farmland and wilderness area Denver bought for conservation in 1978.

Despite the mass of signatures McDaniel collected, there is plenty of opposition to her cause. Much of it stems from the mistaken impression that she is trying to rename the entire mountain rather than naming the eastern peak, which doesn't currently have a name. The Mt. Sopris Historical Society, for example, has an anti-renaming message posted on its homepage.

Some people, including Westword readers, don't think Denver is worthy of this honor. The Aspen Times conducted a poll in which 74 percent of respondents were against the initiative. So, he's good enough for the Colorado Hall of Fame, but we draw the line at a peak?

More from our News archive: "John Ramsey, dad of slain child JonBenét, weds Jan Rousseaux 5 years after wife Patsy's death."

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8 comments
Rick Caldis
Rick Caldis

So we can have a peak named after a questionable man like Kit Carson, but not a man who promoted peace and possitivity like JD? I just struggle with the peak itself. Arent there any "un-named" peaks or points in the area? Yep, there are. I'm loooking at them now. Some folks claim the name Mt Sopris is "sacred" to them and the mountain. Did anyone ask the native americans if they had a name for it B4 the white folks assumed it needed to be named after a Denver Mayor? Probably not. So, so much for the sacred arguement.

Tracy Strode
Tracy Strode

Let me also add, that it is very hard to type this without being very nasty.  Renaming ANY part of Mt Sopris is near sacrilege to me.  I grew up in Carbondale, and having the most iconic landmark in my LIFE renamed in any way/shape/form is borderline infuriating!  Haven't people named McDaniel(s) already messed up enough things that are good about Colorado??  Not to mention, the lady in charge of this has NO relation to Carbondale whatsoever, and John Denver himself had ZERO association with Carbondale.  (He was too busy doing cocaine in Aspen!!).  I HIGHLY doubt she has a SINGLE signature from ANYONE who ever lived or currently lives in Carbondale.  Reading this article makes me want to vomit all over my computer screen!  LEAVE MT SOPRIS ALONE!!!!

Chris Burns
Chris Burns

As someone born in the valley below Mt. Sopris I very much object to this additional naming effort.Even though Mt. Sopris is not being renamed, naming one of its peaks after John Denver will be confusing. Keep Mt Sopris "Mt Sopris". If you have to name the individual peaks, how about " Mt Sopris East Peak" and "Mt Sopris West Peak", or better yet don't add any names to Mount Sopris as "Mt. Sopris" is already a very good name that everyone knows. Chris Burns, Durango, Colorado

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Is there a counter-petition?  I'll sign it.

"Much of it [the opposition to naming a subsidiary peak of Mt. Sopris after John Denver] stems from the mistaken impression that she is trying to rename the entire mountain rather than naming the eastern peak, which doesn't currently have a name." -- I am not at all sure that that is true -- while it may well be the case that many people do not realize that the main peak of Mt. Sopris would not be renamed, it does not follow that they would accede to the naming of even its subsidiary peak after John Denver.

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