John Denver: Petition to name peak after him armed with 2,800 signatures and ready to mail

We are one step closer to having a peak near Carbondale named after Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., who was born in Roswell, New Mexico. You probably know him as John Denver, which is the actual name the eastern peak of Mt. Sopris will take if J.P. McDaniel has her way. This week, she's reportedly mailing a petition requesting a name change to the U.S. Board of Geographical Names Tuesday.

McDaniel claims to have collected 2,300 signatures through an online petition and another 500 in hard-copy form that support christening the peak after the former singer and Aspen resident. She says naming the peak is inspired by Denver's environmental and humanitarian efforts, not his musical success. The effort picked up steam after the first round of media coverage in mid-July.

McDaniel also notes that the petition doesn't seek to rename Mt. Sopris, but rather name the eastern peak of the twin-summit mountain John Denver Peak. If the name change is accepted, both names would appear on official federal maps and charts. McDaniel told the Aspen Times she hopes to have an answer from the the U.S. Board of Geographical Names before the annual Aspen event in October that celebrates Denver.

McDaniel says she chose Mt. Sopris because Denver wrote much of his hit "Rocky Mountain High," one of Colorado's two official songs, while camping at nearby Williams Lake. The mountain is also visible from the Windstar Land Conservancy, almost 1,000 acres of farmland and wilderness area Denver bought for conservation in 1978.

Despite the mass of signatures McDaniel collected, there is plenty of opposition to her cause. Much of it stems from the mistaken impression that she is trying to rename the entire mountain rather than naming the eastern peak, which doesn't currently have a name. The Mt. Sopris Historical Society, for example, has an anti-renaming message posted on its homepage.

Some people, including Westword readers, don't think Denver is worthy of this honor. The Aspen Times conducted a poll in which 74 percent of respondents were against the initiative. So, he's good enough for the Colorado Hall of Fame, but we draw the line at a peak?

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