Link to USGS home page.
Contact USGS

Facebook Icon Twitter Icon
  • Assess
  • Prepare
  • Forecast
  • |
  • Activity
  • Products
  • Observatories
  • About

Volcanoes and History
Cascade Range Volcanoes - "Volcanoes and History"

Naming the Cascade Range Volcanoes
Mount Adams, Washington

Mount Adams was named after the 2nd President of the United States, John Adams, a mistake in a scheme by Hall J. Kelly to call the Cascade Range the "Presidents Range". A good description as to what happened was written in 2002 by the Klickitat County Public Utility District, Jeanie Senior interview with U.S. Forest Service archaeologist Cheryl Mack, Mount Adams Ranger Station, Trout Lake, Washington. It appeared on their website (2002):
"Kelly was inspired by Lewis and Clark's naming Mount Jefferson in Oregon after the president who supported their journey across the continent. Kelly, however, intended the name Adams to go to Mount Hood -- he left the mountain in Washington out of the plan entirely. And the person who mapped the mountains mixed up Kelly's names and also put the name Mount Adams 40 miles in the wrong direction -- where there happened to be a mountain ready to bear the name. The Native Americans, of course, knew it was there all along -- they called the mountain Pahtoe. "Mount Adams" stuck firmly after 1853, when the Pacific Railroad Expedition put the name on their map. As for the grand Presidential Range [Presidents Range] scheme -- well, Cheryl said, "very few of the names took."

Native American names for Mount Adams are "Pahto" and "Klickitat". "Pahto" and "Wy'east" (Mount Hood, across the Columbia) vied for the favors of a beautiful maiden named "Loowit" (Mount St. Helens). A Gifford Pinchot National Forest "Mount St. Helens" Brochure (1980) tells the story:
"Northwest Indians told early explorers about the fiery Mount St. Helens. In fact, an Indian name for the mountain, Louwala-Clough, means "smoking mountain". According to one legend, the mountain was once a beautiful maiden, "Loowit". When two sons of the Great Spirit "Sahale" fell in love with her, she could not choose between them. The two braves, Wyeast and Klickitat fought over her, burying villages and forests in the process. Sahale was furious. He smote the three lovers and erected a mighty mountain peak where each fell. Because Loowit was beautiful, her mountain (Mount St. Helens) was a beautiful, symmetrical cone of dazzling white. Wyeast (Mount Hood) lifts his head in pride, but Klickitat (Mount Adams) wept to see the beautiful maiden wrapped in snow, so he bends his head as he gazes on St. Helens."


If you have questions or comments please contact:
2008 - 2011, Lyn Topinka
Return to: Volcanoes and History | CVO Home Page