|Information Entries for Mt. of the Holy Cross and Name History|
Name History (Mt. of the Holy Cross)
Title: Naming of Mt. of the Holy Cross
Entered by: 14erFred
Added: 05/14/2010, Last Updated: 05/14/2010
Sources: Borneman, W.R., & Lampert, L.J. (1978). A climbing guide to Colorado's Fourteeners. Boulder, CO: Pruett Publishing Company. Eberhart, P., & Schmuck, P. (1970). The Fourteeners: Colorado's great mountains. Chicago: The Swallow Press. Hart, J.L.J. (1977). Fourteen thousand feet: A history of the naming and early ascents of the high Colorado peaks (Second Edition). Denver, CO: The Colorado Mountain Club.
The mountain takes its name from a majestic snow-formation on its Northeast Face that is shaped like a huge cross. After the gold-seeking "Fifty-Niners" began to populate the Rockies, the mountain became legendary. Indians, trappers, mountain men, and straying prospectors told of seeing "the snowy cross," but the well-hidden peak continued to elude official recognition. Then, on August 29, 1869, William Brewer made the first recorded sighting of the cross from the summit of 14,270-foot Grays Peak (about 50 miles to the east). His reference to "the Mount of the Holy Cross far in the distance" indicates that by 1869 the mountain was fairly well-known, although its exact location was not yet pinpointed.
Four years later, the U.S. Government's Hayden Survey set out to find, chart, and photograph the legendary peak. Surveyor Ferdinand V. Hayden wisely included the noted pioneer photographer William H. Jackson in his expedition to document any discoveries they might make. On August 23, 1873, after numerous false starts and great difficulty passing through fallen timber, Jackson finally succeeded in climbing 13,237-foot Notch Mountain (1½ miles directly northeast of Mount of the Holy Cross) and took the now-famous first photograph of the cross.