Margaret Murie may have inspired the naming of a mountain, but probably not. 

That’s the conclusion of a blog post I came across while researching Murie’s Today in Literary History story on Bidwell Hollow. The National Park Service piece tries to determine the origin of Mt. Margaret, a 5,069-foot peak in Alaska’s Denali National Park.

Map showing Alaska's Mt. Margaret, likely not named after Margaret Murie.
Alaska’s Mt. Margaret is a peak inside Denali National Park. It’s likely not named after writer and conservationist Margaret Murie.

“Some have long assumed the mountain was named for the most famous Margaret (arguably) in Alaska’s past: Margaret ‘Mardy’ Murie,” the blog post’s author, Erik Johnson, writes.

It’s a reasonable expectation. Murie is an Alaskan and national legend. 

In 1924 Murie became the first woman to graduate from Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mine, now called the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Murie was a 22-year-old newlywed when she accompanied her husband, Olaus, on a 550-mile, eight-month expedition studying caribou in Alaska’s Brooks Range.

Murie wrote a fantastic nature memoir, Two in the Far North. And she spent her life championing conservation, leading the establishment of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the passage of the Wilderness Act.

But Margaret Murie is likely not the namesake for Mt. Margaret.

Johnson’s blog post points out that Mt. Margaret appears on a 1921 survey of Alaska. Margaret Murie was a 19-year-old college student at the time, and likely not known to the surveyor, Woodbury Abbey.

Plus, Murie’s kids know nothing about their mom having a peak named after her. (Murie passed away in 2003 at 101.)

It seems that no one knows the Margaret who inspired the naming of a mountain in Alaska. 

You can read Erik Johnson’s article about the mystery of Mt. Margaret’s name.

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