Snow-covered mountain in the distance, the former Mt. McKinley.

Former Mount McKinley

Field review by the editors.

Denali Park, Alaska

In case you're wondering how a middle-of-the-pack President such as William McKinley got the tallest mountain in North America named for him -- it was the luck of timing and politics.

McKinley was about to be elected President in November 1896 when a prospector in Alaska saw the mountain and decided that it and McKinley deserved each other. The prospector, William Dickey, was searching for gold. McKinley was the candidate of gold-based money, and Dickey was annoyed by the silver miners he met who were anti-McKinley. So when Dickey returned to civilization he wrote a letter to the New York Sun (a pro-McKinley newspaper) about his idea. It was published, and McKinley's supporters whooped the idea into reality soon after their man became President in 1897.

Of course, the mountain already had a name, Denali, which the Koyukon Athabaskan people had used for countless generations. From the 1960s on they tried to get the mountain's name changed back to what they'd always called it, but their efforts were blocked by congressional representatives from Ohio, McKinley's home state.

That lasted until August 30, 2015, when President Obama announced that the mountain's name would change back to Denali. But if you're a fan of the 25th President and still want to call it Mount McKinley, that's probably okay too.

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Former Mount McKinley

Address:
George Parks Hwy, Denali Park, AK
Directions:
Hwy 3/George Parks Hwy to Denali National Park. 240 miles north of Anchorage, or 120 miles south of Fairbanks.
Phone:
907-733-7311
Admission:
Free to look at.
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December 12, 2019

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