Was it ever really called Mount Pitt?

Having been born and raised in this valley for more than 70 years, I have known our mountain as "Pitt." From the Klamath side, it was always known as McLoughlin. How and when did the accepted name become Mount McLoughlin? What happened to Pitt? Newcomers to our valley have never heard of Mount Pitt. They want to call our "angel" a "butterfly" and "lizard." Can you sort this out for us old-timers?

— M. Anderson, Eagle Point

Actually, the name McLoughlin appeared on a map as early as 1838, while the name Pitt first appeared on an 1843 map. The Pitt name is derived from the Pit River in California. The word was often misspelled as Pitt. In 1905, the Legislature named the mountain to honor the Oregon pioneer, Dr. John McLoughlin. So, the old-timers have apparently gotten it wrong all these years.

There is no evidence the mountain was named after William Pitt, the English statesman. The mountain has also been referred to as Snowy Butte and Big Butte.

Indigenous people also had different names. The Klamath Indians called the mountain M'laiksini Yaina, but the Takelma knew it as Malsi.

You also spoke about an angel, a butterfly and a lizard. We suppose you are referring to the way the snow melts on Mount McLoughlin into the shape of an angel, as many have described. Others think it looks more like an eagle. Fishing lore has it that when the snow on Mount McLoughlin has melted sufficiently to make the eagle or angel shape visible, it's time for the spring Chinook salmon run. Historian Jeff LaLande once said, "When the eagle's on the mountain, it's time to wet the line."

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