Tuesday, April 28, 2009


When I developed the Web pages for waterfalls in Mt. Rainier NP I chose to go with only those with establised names approved by the Board of Geographic Names which are included on USGS topographic maps. This was a decision to find waterfalls with just a map and without the necessity of having prints of Web pages or one of the books on waterfalls in the NP and surrounding area.

This clearly then the waterfall guide does not have all the waterfalls in the NP, even though many are worthy of names or have accepted names over time, and many more worthy of anyone's photographic effort. The unofficially unnamed or unnamed waterfalls outnumber the officially recognized and named ones by several times. But I would add a word of caution about the unofficial names.

When you display photographs of waterfalls which don't have official names, I would advise you to ensure you provide sufficient information for others to locate the waterfall. The last thing another photographer needs is to see your images to discover they can't find the waterfall. It's why I provide the links to other Websites on watefalls in Mt. Rainier, many of which don't have official names and are in my guide.

This means the waterfall guide doesn't even have many of the waterfalls you see along the roads and trails. Many of them don't have names, let alone having a traditional or unofficial name. I've seen books and Websites where people simply attach their own name. While that's maybe cool to you, it's not useful for anyone else as the name has no relevance to anything else. And simply creating a name doesn't make it real or official.

That's where the Board of Geographic Names comes in. While it's for names recognized and used by the Federal government agencies, it's generally accepted by the States' agencies and most local government agencies. Some states and locals governments, however, do have additional names or alternate names.

In Washington State, the Department of Natural Resources has its own Board of Geographic Names. In either case, there are standard proceedures for proposing names to geographic features. This applies to waterfalls. If you like and want a name for a waterfall, go through the hoops. Don't create one thinking we should use it.

Anyway, that's my view of things.

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