4363′ | Height Order: 24
This is our first sketch about one of the original untrailed peaks and how climbers were greeted upon reaching the summit of Mount Marshall back in the days of herd paths and summit canisters.
The “Hi Hiker” greeting was lovingly borrowed by Grace, who prepared and maintained the logbooks as part of her duties as 46er Historian, from her husband, “Uncle Ed” Hudowalski (46er # 6). It was how he famously and graciously greet climbers he encountered on the trails during his life.
Each of the logbooks contained a short sketch describing a little history and asking the climber to report their climb and the last three names preceding their entry from the logbook to Grace and the 46ers. We have included an image of one of those introductions so you can see what it was like back then. The logbooks are now part of the 46er Collection in the Manuscripts and Special Collections of the NYS Library in Albany.
So how did Mount Marshall get its name? Well, that is quite a tale indeed.
The Naming of Mount Marshall
Back in August 1922 the lives of two Adirondack Mountain climbing legends began to intersect when Bob Marshall published High Peaks of the Adirondacks and Grace Hudowalski climbed Mount Marcy, her first high peak ascent.
They came from different life experiences and opposite ends of New York State. Neither aware of the other at the time, and destined to never meet face to face, their connection when it did happen some 17 years later was electric. In a handful of letters exchanged over the course of ten (10) months in 1938 and 1939, Robert (Bob) Marshall (46er #3) and Grace (Leach) Hudowalski (46er #9) shared an enthusiastic love for the Adirondack mountains, their common experience, and a passion for sharing their experiences with others. Their combined influence on the development of recreation in the wilds of northern NY, on the history of the region, its culture and traditions, and the popularization of mountain hiking and climbing in the Adirondacks is unrivaled.
In the fall of 1938, Grace published an article about “random scooting” to Mount Herbert (today’s Mount Marshall) in the bulletin of the Adirondack Mountain Club, and it caught Bob’s attention. Grace, of course, knew all about Bob Marshall. She had read his booklet and could recite much of Russ Carson’s Peaks and People of the Adirondacks from memory. But for Marshall, that little article was his first exposure to Grace, and he wrote a most charming letter that December worthy of being repeated in its entirety.
Dear Miss Hudowalski:
I have just read with great interest your little article on “random scooting” up Mount Herbert which appeared in the August-September Bulletin of the Adirondack Mountain Club. It brought back most pleasant memories of a “random scoot” which my brother George, Herb Clark and I took up this summit in June 1921. We went a different way then you, going from Iroquois straight across to Herbert and then dropping down toward Indian Pass. After seventeen years, what I remember especially about that trip was the freshness of Mount Herbert’s summit without a single trace of man, and the marvelous ground cover, especially sphagnum, moss, wood sorrel and dwarf dogwood, which we walked over and sank into as we dropped down the mountain. But your description of freshness and virgin vegetation, while it was mostly of other land, nevertheless brought back splendidly that feeling of wilderness which one gets so grandly on Herbert.
Incidentally, I might add this and Allan (sic), as I look back upon Adirondack mountain climbing, stand out as my two favorite peaks just because they are so perfect for real wilderness travel.
Grace responded, enthusiastically thanking her new friend for his letter, and remarking that “I was thrilled to get your letter, for the ‘Marshall Brothers’ have been an incentive to us who climb the High Peaks.” Over the course of the next several months the two exchanged a suite of enthusiastic letters discussing mountain adventures, the development of the list of 46ers and unwittingly inaugurated a another of the traditions unique to the Adirondacks, personal correspondence recounting mountain adventures that Grace would weave into the distinct and unique fabric of Adirondack culture.
Fittingly, the mountain that would bear Bob’s name was one of his two wilderness favorites. Grace would go on to champion the effort to put Bob’s name on a high peak and ultimately be instrumental in straightening out the bureaucratic mess that had held up the naming of Mount Marshall for more than 30 years.
How the name Marshall came to be fixed to the southernmost peak in the McIntyre Range is tale of adventure, spiced with perhaps a bit of scandal and intrigue, a rigmarole of a random scoot if there is such a thing in mountain naming.
When the Marshalls ascended the mountain we know today as Iroquois in 1918 they mistakenly thought it was lacking a name and that the summit furthest south in the range was Iroquois. Wanting to thank their friend and guide Herb Clark (46er #1), they dubbed the mountain “Herbert” in his honor. Little did they know that that distant peak had already been called “Clinton” by Colvin, and that Colvin had thrown that same name out to identify the higher Iroquois as well as the summit separating Iroquois and Algonquin which we know today as Boundary. The mountain naming puddle was a bit muddy indeed.
As an aside, poor DeWitt Clinton. A venerated politician, naturalist, NY City Mayor, 7th Governor of NY State and responsible for plotting the course and construction of the Erie Canal (a huge transportation innovation and wonder of the world in its day), U.S. Senator, and candidate for U. S. President, was certainly a figure worthy of being memorialized with a mountain. And, in fact, he was tapped for that honor in the Adirondacks by Colvin and for a time the mountain we know today as Eisenhower in the Whites bore his name. There may have been others as well – his stature was national. But in the end, he lost his place in the Whites and in the Adirondacks of his home state. But that is a story for another day perhaps.
Russ Carson alerted the Marshalls to their error and the names Herbert and Iroquois played musical chairs at Carson’s suggestion. Carson had also suggested that a summit be named to honor the Marshalls and proposed that the Dix Range summit the Marshalls had dubbed “Middle Dix” bear their name. When the 46ers of Troy decided it was high time to get some of these names made official in 1940, and wanting to honor Bob who had tragically died the year before, they included Carson’s suggestion for Mount Marshall in their petition. Little did they know, however, that the Conservation Department had quietly slipped a petition for a different name, Hough, through the process without fanfare, rendering the petition moot on that one proposition. But they recovered quickly, responding to a new rule forbidding the naming of a feature for a living person, making Herbert Clark ineligible, and proposed that the mountains known by then as Herbert be named Marshall instead.
As a fitting honor for Herb Clark, the lovely brook many of us have followed as a route to the summit bears his name – Herbert Brook. Thus, many of us have been guided to Marshall’s summit by Herb just as he guided George and Bob.
Now comes the intrigue. In the early decades of the 20th century antisemitism was, sadly, rather common. When Carson proposed naming a mountain to honor the Marshalls it was met with vigorous criticism by Theodor Van Wyck Anthony, a Newburgh attorney and member of the Adirondack Mountain Club. Anthony used some careful words to avoid a direct anti-Jewish bent to his opposition, claiming that he was moved by “a pro-Gentile leaning”, but the message was clear—at least to our modern sensibilities. “I do, however, admit a pro-Gentile leaning on all points in controversy, and if that be religious prejudice make the most of it.” Sad as this may be, it is part of the history, and it would be wise to remember these lessons.
Anthony’s opposition was to Russ Carson’s assignment of the name to “Middle Dix” in Peaks and People, which was published a decade before Bob’s untimely death. Anthony took cover and spun his opposition into an argument that a feature should not be named for a living person and that resulted in a rule change. By the time 46ers of Troy petitioned for the name in 1940, Bob had tragically died and that rule was no longer an impediment.
The 46ers petition was granted in 1942, or so they thought. Their names were approved, and they started showing up in print and on maps and such. All except Mount Marshall. Curious. What happed? Well, the world got caught up in a war at that point and everyone was focused on the horrors in Europe. And the whole thing seems to have been forgotten until the early 1970’s. In the interim, requests were made of the State and US Board of Geographic Names. It was thought that the name had been approved by the State. The USBGS could not find its record. And the State could not find its records either? Curious indeed!
Credit goes to Dr. Phillip G. Terrie (46er #772) who penned the Editor’s Introduction to ADK’s last reprint of Peaks and People published in the 1970’s and 1980’s. He dug into the matter and secured copies of the 46er of Troy petitions from Grace. Fully armed he pursued the matters and finally in 1973 the name Mount Marshall became official at last. Quite the saga indeed.
First ascent honors go to the Marshalls and Herb Clark in 1921. Today the two primary routes to the summit ascend Herbert Brook and a shorter route similar to the course the Marshalls took that ascends from the Col between Marshall and Iroquois. The Herbert Brook route was a sentimental favorite of Grace’s. She would often regale climbers with detailed descriptions of its wonders and express deep affection for the route and for its namesake.
The summit register on Marshall began humbly as an ointment can and went through several versions until all the summit registers were removed in 2001, ending their controversial history within and without the 46er club.
For those who climbed back in those nostalgic times, there was a great thrill in reaching Marshall’s summit and perusing the entries. The herd paths of days gone by are now unmaintained trails and relatively easy to follow. For the adventurous, we can tell you that there is a route scouted out by none other than the late Ed Bunk (46er #3052W) with the author of this sketch back in the 1990’s up the southern side of the mountain. There is a slide there Ed dubbed George’s Bottle beyond which is an endless and nearly impenetrable course of the thickest cripple brush imaginable all the way to the summit. Not for the faint of heart and likely not a route many have attempted, let alone completed. That climb left an indelible mark (scars) on bodies and memories!
Capturing a little more cultural heritage and nostalgia, we will send you on your way as Grace did in thousands of letters she wrote to aspiring 46ers and in the many logbook sketches she wrote and sent on to the summits.