Friday, December 11, 2009

Abbot Kinney and Mt. Wilson

While we're on Abbot Kinney....

One of our local peaks was nearly named after Kinney -- and not just any peak. Mt. Wilson was, for a short time, referred to as Mt. Kinneyloa. In 1887 a US survey team mapped the local mountains renaming the peak as "Mt. Kinneyloa" in honor of Mr. Kinney and his foothills ranch. However, as described in The Mount Wilson Observatory by Allan Sandage, the name change was short-lived. Sandage writes:

The ensuing local uproar - led by Los Angeles Times publisher Harrison Gray Otis - was fierce. In a scathing editorial Otis extolled Don Benito Wilson as "one of the foremost citizens of Los Angeles County and Southern California. If [Kinney] hungers and thirsts after a mountain [to be named after him], let him build a trail to the summit of one of the many Sierra Madre peaks yet unchristened, with chisel in hand. and let him cut deep into the face of its topmost granite rock the talismanic word KINNEYLOA, but keep Wilson's Peak for Don Benito."

Otis' editorial was not only hilarious with its image of Kinney chiseling his name on a mountaintop, but was apparently effective. Except for the surveyor's map, the peak continued to be named after Don Benito Wilson.

Thanks to Nat Read, who relates this story in his excellent book Don Benito Wilson: From Mountain Man to Mayor.

4 comments:

Brenda's Arizona said...

That's pretty interesting! And much easier to remember as Wilson - I mean, Kinneyloa just seems odd. Why not just Kinney?

Michael Coppess said...

Brenda: I thought the same thing. Mt. Kinneyloa sounds funny -- maybe ok in Hawaii, but not here. Best answer seems to be that the crew that surveyed the mountains stayed at Kinney's ranch and picked the name up there. I wonder what else that surveying crew may have named?

Petrea said...

Brenda's question's a good one. I love these stories, Michael.

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