The agency responsible for standardizing geographical name spellings throughout the federal government has decided against a proposal by a New Hampshire woman to change the name of Mount Washington in Coös County to Agiocochook, but did say it can be used on federal products alongside the official name.
In a letter to Kris Pastoriza of Easton, the U.S. Board on Geographical Names said: “We regret to inform you that the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, at its Jan. 11, 2024 meeting, did not approve your proposal to change the name of Mount Washington in and on the White Mountain National Forest to Agiocochook.
“The decision cited the local and State opposition to the change, a lack of input from federally recognized Tribes, and a reluctance to change a longstanding name.
“The members noted that the name Agiocochook is recorded as a variant name in the BGN’s database entry for Mount Washington, and as such it is permitted to be shown, where warranted, on Federal products alongside (or below) the official name.”
Pastoriza said it was unlikely the board would support her proposal.
“Given the letters sent from the various New Hampshire agencies to the BGN, opposing the name change, it seemed very unlikely that the federal government would support it,” Pastoriza said in an email Friday.
She quoted from the portion of the letter stating Agiocochook can be used on federal products alongside or below Mount Washington where warranted.
“Anyone is also free to call any mountain by any name they wish, or no name at all, and might find they see it more clearly,” Pastoriza said.
She had also proposed Baker River be changed to Asquamchumauke, which has not yet been voted on by the BGN.
Eight commissioners for the state and the executive director of Fish and Game drafted letters of opposition to changing the name of Mount Washington and the Baker River.
They included the Departments of Safety, Education, Transportation, Natural and Cultural Resources, Environmental Services, Administrative Services, Business and Economic Affairs, Health and Human Services.
Some claimed the name change would increase danger in search and rescue missions and loss of tourism revenue, which Pastoriza said were unsupported by data.
Pastoriza urged the U.S. Board of Geographic Names to change the name of Mount Washington to Mount Agiocochook as it was known by native Americans before European settlement, because the first U.S. President owned slaves, and that the name for the Baker River be changed to the native Asquamchumauke River, noting Lt. Thomas Baker, for whom it is now named and his troops destroyed a Pemigewasset native village near Plymouth in 1712.
Paula Tracy contributed to this report. Nancy West is the founder of IndepthNH.org and a veteran reporter with 40 years of experience.