RENAME THE GORE RANGE
THE NUCHU RANGE
On Indigenous Peoples Day, 2017, Karn Stiegelmeier introduced a resolution from the Summit County Board of Commissioners (which she chaired) to rename the Gore Range to one that honored the original inhabitants of the region - the Ute Indians . And thus began a campaign that continues today. (Click HERE for photos of the ceremony.)
The motivation was driven by both a push and a pull. The push: George Gore was entirely unworthy of such a spectacular namesake. The pull: the Ute Indians and their forebears had been worthy stewards of the land for thousands of years, until their forced removal in 1888.
For several years after the introduction of the resolution, the three Ute tribes (Northern, Southern, and Ute Mountain Utes) considered candidate names, settling eventually on NUCHU, which means "Ute" in their language.
In September, 2020, a formal request was submitted to the national USGS Board of Geographic Names, asking that the Gore Range be renamed the Nuchu Range (click HERE to read the formal request). The national USGS board in turn will ask the newly-constituted Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board to examine the request in detail, and they will hopefully recommend approval.
The request seeks to change only the name of the range, not any of the other places in Colorado with the official name "Gore," namely 3 creeks, 2 campgrounds, a trail, a pass, a canyon, and a lake. (Click for map.)
Irishman Sir George Gore visited the US from 1854 to 1857. He traveled widely on the plains of what would become Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana, with a brief side‐trip into the future states of Utah and Colorado (although never south of the Colorado River). His provisions were legendary: his fur‐lined commode and brass bedstead illustrate the extravagance that filled 30 wagons with his supplies, attended by 50 servants. His sole aim was hunting trophy game, supported by scouts, beaters, hounds, and a vast arsenal of firearms and ammunition.
Gore earned the deep animosity of both Native Americans and the US government, simultaneously. His cruel slaughter of countless game animals deprived the native population of a vital food supply, and his American host, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, wrote, "George Gore... received from me a passport to travel through the Indian country in the spring of 1854; and... he greatly abused the privileges granted to him by a wanton destruction of the game upon which Indians rely solely for Support." Even the plaque "honoring" Gore at the summit of Gore Pass notes, "More than 2,000 buffalo, 1,600 elk and deer, 100 bears were massacred for sport…."
Late in his trip, Gore and his crew knowingly violated his passport when they penetrated into the Black Hills, sacred lands granted by treaty to the Sioux Indians. Previous interlopers had been summarily killed. The Sioux discovered Gore's party, surrounded, overwhelmed, and disarmed them, and then ... they let them go, unharmed. It was an astonishing gesture, after his depredations.
While he paid his attendants a fair wage, Gore revealed his true feelings about them at the end of his trip, in the remote reaches of the Yellowstone River. As he prepared to disband the crew, Gore felt that the men were not offering enough money for his remaining wagons and gear, so out of spite he burned the lot (except for his guns and trophies) in front of them, and departed for St. Louis.
As mentioned, Gore never ventured south of the Colorado River, and thus never set foot in the core of the magnificent mountain range later named after him.
"A Celtic Nimrod in the Old West" Montana Magazine, 2016
"Sir George, the buffalo slayer" Salt Lake Tribune, 1997
"Expedition of Excess" Billings Gazette, 2002
"Recasting the Gore name in Colorado" Boulder Camera, 2009
1. The Amazing Adventures of Lord Gore - A True Saga from the Old West by Jack Roberts, Sundance, 1977
2. Speaking Ill of the Dead - Jerks in Montana History, by Dave Walter, Morris, 2000.
Read how public opinion caused the USGS to name CHIPETA PEAK in the Sawatch Mountains HERE
The mountains of Colorado and Utah were the homeland of the Ute Indians for many centuries, and probably millennia. They were known as The People of the Shining Mountains. Of the eleven Ute tribes, the White River Utes (Parianuche and Yamparika) occupied North Park, Middle Park, and the White and Yampa river valleys, with territories extending westward to eastern Utah. By 1881, they all had been removed from their ancestral lands to reservations in Utah and SW Colorado. See the Discovery Channel documentary: "How The West Was Lost : The Utes Must Go"
HOW DID THE NAME ARISE?
The earliest reference we have found (unearthed by Jay Browne) is from the September 1, 1868 edition of the Rocky Mountain News (link). Its founder and editor William Byers had just returned from the first recorded ascent of Long's Peak with John Wesley Powell and others, and wrote that from the summit they could see a number of mountain ranges, including "Gore's Range." That name later (1870s) appeared on maps from the Hayden expeditions. The USGS was founded in 1879, and the name was then made official.
Roots of naming the Gore Range Jay Browne, 2017
See also 1985 letter from BGN Chair
What You Can Do
Please prepare to express yourself, because the topic is going to receive press coverage as the Colorado GNAB (Geographic Naming Advisory Board) begins its investigation.
Already, Grand County Commissioner Merrit Linke has expressed the all-too-common knee-jerk opposition to such measures without even considering the facts. We will be posting suggestions as time goes on and the issue becomes more prominent.
26 January 2021: Vail Daily article: “Changing Gore Range, named for man who slaughtered Colorado wildlife, hits stiff opposition in Grand County”
18 September 2020: Colorado Sun article: "George Gore’s bloody legacy could soon be erased from Colorado’s mountains, replaced with a nod to the Utes."
15 September 2020: An article in The DENVER POST asks "Does the Gore Range need a different name?"
8 September 2020: The Summit County Board of County Commissioners pass a resolution calling for the Gore Range to be renamed the Nuchu Range.
Colorado Sun 13 July 2020: Click HERE to read Justin Blevins' informative article about Colorado landmarks targeted for renaming, including of course the Gore Range.
Denver Post 2 July 2020: Click HERE to read about the creation of the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board. The Board has lain fallow for a number of years, but the current interest in renaming monuments, statues, and other public displays has led to its rejuvenation.
Vail Valley Magazine, 29 April 2020: In a Land of Gore, by Shirley Welch. Lots of interesting details about Gore's trip. LINK
Denver Post 3 December 2017: TIM LYDON's comprehensive and thoughtful essay includes this: "Restoring traditional place names can’t undo the past, but it helps repair the lingering cultural damage." LINK
Summit Daily 20 & 31 October 2017: two letters to the editor, one against renaming (by Joe Kramarsic) and one in favor, a specific reply to Kramarsic (by Bill Betz). Link
Denver Post 15 October 2017 article: "Effort is Afoot for No More Gore"
Summit Daily 3 October 2017 article: "Colorado’s Gore Range was named after a bloodthirsty 19th century aristocrat. Is it time for a change?"
FENW October 2017 Newsletter essay by Karn Stiegelmeier: "Rename the Gore Range"
Read how public opinion caused the USGS to name CHIPETA PEAK in the Sawatch Mountains HERE
Take a Google Earth tour around the range (90 seconds)
Take a Google Earth tour up Slate Creek (86 seconds)
send us yours: email@example.com (your email address will not be published).
David Brewster (16 April 2018)
It is far better to be in favor of something than just against something. I think the Gore Range should be renamed if a more appropriate name can be found. The Gore Range has some historic value, perhaps as a lesson of what should not be done, and the name has been used for some time now. I personally don’t find The Shining Mountain Range to be a particularly compelling name since it historically refers to all the Rockies the Utes inhabited and it is a somewhat clumsy name. If this is a serious effort a first good step would be a conversation between interested and better informed historians than myself, not what appears to be a knee jerk “politically correct” reaction.
Jerry Kelly (21 November 2017)
Thanks, Karn for picking up the mantel to lead in the changing of the name of the Gore Range to Shining Mountain Range. Please continue to persevere and to gather more support to make it happen.
Joel & Mern Bitler (3 November 2017)
While we love ESWA, we do not support renaming of the Gore Range, Gore Trail, Gore Creek, Gore “Whatever”. There seems to be a big push on to rename some much, or demolish statues, in the USA because a few liberals want to change history they don’t like.
Bruce Field (22 October 2017)
I fully support the change of the Gore Mtn. range to any other name.
I can’t believe it was named after such an abusive killer and aristocratic fool. Does anyone know how this happened?
My suggestion would be to let the Ute People pick the names, then also systematically erase the Gore name from all maps where it may appear, ( example: Gore Range to another, Gore Pass to another, etc. )
Yes yes yes! Change the Gore (a man who created a lot of gore!) Range to Shining Mountains! It’s something tangible we can do to assuage what our forefathers did to the Ute.
Steve & Linda Ganby
Absolutely, we agree! Make it so! See a “Shining Mountain” fine art panoramic print at my website:
Patti and Tommy Banks
YES!!!!! Rename Gore Range to the Shining Mountains Please!!!!
I think the renaming of the Gore Range is a great idea. I was a wilderness ranger there for several years and always hated that the name was given to somebody so undeserving. I completely support your efforts.
Re name changes: A couple of us wrote the US Board on Geographic Names when the Red White and Blue Fire District of Breckenridge wanted to get Atlantic Peak (informal name) renamed officially to Red White and Blue Peak. We suggested that Atlantic is appropriate and that should become the official name. The US Board agreed with us and it is now official at Atlantic. Not quite the same as Gore story, but it shows the Board can be reasonable.
yes, an excellent idea
Hello, My name is Craig Nielson with the Chipeta Mountain Project (chipetamountain.com). We successfully got the name of Chipeta Mountain (just northwest of the Mt. Ouray, moved to the high point on the massif and are holding a celebration event on Oct 8-9th. We would like to invite you to join our event and perhaps we can help your with your project.
What a worthy idea! I am curious to know what the Ute translation for “shining mountains” is – anyone know?
We are blessed to live in this valley, and to venture into this most beautiful mountain range in Colorado. Our spectacular mountains deserve an honorable name, and one that fits the naming criteria of the USGS. Those criteria include a requirement for naming after a person: documentation that the person resided in the area, and contributed significant benefit to the community or environment.
I think this renaming campaign is a good idea. There seems to be nothing that anyone has found to suggest that, at least while he was in the USA, George Gore was anything other than a total jerk, and worse. And, on the other side, it seems a small gesture, after all of the injustices inflicted on the Utes, for the US government to return a bit of dignity to them by restoring the ancient name of their shining mountains.