SALEM, OR -- A state board has agreed to renaming a list of geographical features around Oregon. It was a unanimous vote by the Oregon Geographic Names Board, to change the potentially offensive names of a handful of locations. Oregon Historical Society Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk says the new names honor people who lived in the area, "Negro Knob in Grant County was changed to Columbus Sewell Knob. Mr. Sewell was an African American who lived in that area in the mid 19th Century. A Negro Ridge in Douglas County was changed to Malvin Brown Ridge. Mr. Brown was a member of the famed Triple Nickles US Forest Service smokejumpers who trained here in Oregon, and was killed in a training exercise here, in 1945." He tells KBND News, "Negro Creek in Douglas County was changed to Jack Carson Creek. Mr. Carson was an African American who lived and worked near Canyonville in Douglas County in that area, in the 19th and early 20th Century, I believe. And then we also began the process of changing another, totally different Negro Creek in Douglas County - there were two - to Triple Nickles Creek, to honor the whole elite 555 Triple Nickles US Forest Service smokejumpers who trained here in Oregon."
All of the renaming recommendations will be sent to the US Board on Geographic Names, which grants final approval.
Change is also in the works for Lane County’s Swastika Mountain, "Which had bore that name for more than a century. [It was] Given the name Swastika before that became associated, of course, with Nazi Germany," says Tymchuk, "The one that we considered, and I believe we’ll recommend, is Mt. Halo, referring to a former Native American Chief from the 19th Century, who was part of a tribe in that area." Due to a timeline requirement, state approval of that change is pushed to the board's December meeting. A Wasco County summit called "Chinaman Hat" is also in the pipeline for a name change. Tymchuk says the board is waiting for a list of suggestions from people in that area. The board expects that will also come in December.