What was that name again?

Posted by Ken Campbell May 15, 2009 0 Comment 581 views

The Duckabush River, on the eastern slope of the Olympics, takes its name from the Indian word “do-hi-a-boos,” which comes out as “reddish face.” Whether the name refers to the ochre hue of the mountain bluffs in the region or is a Twana Indian reference to the chief of the mythical salmon people is a matter still under discussion. What everyone can agree on, however, is that, since the Wilkes Expedition of 1841, the name of the river has never been in doubt.

If you’re talking about the mountain though, that’s a different story. Essentially, Mount Duckabush gets its name simply because of its location near the headwaters of the river. At 6250 feet, it’s a significant peak, large enough that you would figure, once it’s named, it’ll stay that way. Not so, in this case.

For a while in the late 1800’s, it went by the name Mount Arline, in reference to the eldest daughter of Army Colonel Thomas M. Anderson, Commander of the 14th Infantry. In August of 1890, Tacoma Judge, James Wickersham hung the name Susan on the mountain, presumably in an effort to suck up to his wife, Deborah Susan Wickersham. It could not have helped his cause that the O’Neil Expedition of that same year gave the mountain the name of Skookum, an Indian word meaning strong or powerful.

It all came out in the wash eventually. The other names fell by the way and Duckabush stuck. It’s actually pretty common, this throwing of names at a natural feature like a mountain or a river. In the end, there’s one that survives.

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