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More about those who claim undue credit

Letter from Clarice Still

Mt. Kia/Mia – August 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine

Dear Editor,

I just finished reading the story on Mt. KIA/MIA by Bill Hatcher [in the June edition]. The man who was interviewed, Bradly Hight, gives the distinct impression that he and the committee are responsible for having the mountain named, when he/they did not do any such thing. He jumped in at the end after all the hard work was done by an honorable man( veteran), Bruce Salisbury, and his wife Dottie. I find the article to be a horrible disservice to them. Here, is an original article written when the mountain was in the process of being named, and finally assigned after five long years.

You will see that Brad merely took all of Bruce’s thoughts and words as his own and is now apparently attempting to cash in on same.


Clairice Still, Publisher
The Veterans’ Voice

Before we get to Bruce Salisbury’s piece, reprinted below with permission, we’ll note that we talked to Salisbury about Bradley Hight, who has claimed a lot more credit than he was due when talking to the media.

For as long as we have known anything of the Mt. KIA/MIA project, the main mover has been Bruce Salisbury of Aztec. N.M. However, Hight has repeatedly presented himself as a primary organizer for the endeavor and has been featured in articles about the project in publications in Colorado and New Mexico and by the Associated Press.

When we contacted Salisbury, he magnanimously said “you shouldn’t feel bad for being deceived by him.” But we regret our inadvertent collusion in overshadowing the efforts and persistence of Salisbury in renaming this mountain, and would hereby like to extend a public apology.

Salisbury also said that “perhaps in a couple of years” there will be an official dedication ceremony for Mt. Kiamia, as opposed to the event in June that drew about 75 people.

How It Came To Be

by Bruce Salisbury

For some four years now I have been asking the “Colorado Geographic Names Board” to allow us to name a tall Colorado mountain in honor of America’s killed-in-action/missing-in-action, from all American Armed Forces, and from all of our country’s wars. This quest seems to have culminated in once again being told, “NO.”

I suspect that if the citizens of the state of Colorado were allowed to vote on this proposal, it might well be accepted, but these “board members” are appointed, and they seem to march to their own chosen drummer, and the band is small, and leaning to the left.

Four years is a long time to work for something, and while their first refusal made sense, because they just did not want to change the name of one of their thirty-three “Sheep Mountains” (within the borders of Colorado). This latest “turn down” makes me see red. I will let you share the “minutes” from their July 2005 meeting (see below), to which I was not invited. I have never been contacted by any “board member” and have only managed to get a copy of this set of minutes because a friend sent it to me a few days ago.

Several of the points I wish to make are as follows: “The board” refers to the mountain chosen as a “significant rock outcropping,” though it is 11,282 feet tall, and has a stream on each side of it to define it. Starvation Creek, which then meets Poncha Creek, flows around the north side of the mountain, while Silver Creek flows along the south side, where they join. To me, and the National Geographic Names Board, it is a mountain!

TO CALL IT a rock outcropping is bizarre. In the next paragraph, it is stated that “the new chosen feature would be considered insignificant when considering the importance of such a memorial.” Where else on the face of the earth is an 11,282 ft. high mountain considered a rock outcropping?

Actually, this rock strewn mountain is covered with conifers, and is much too high for me to climb, since I am now old and frail. Of course, it is “rocky,” but why the hell would we want to build a permanent memorial on a “sand pile”? One of the nice features of this mountain is that it can be accessed, within a few footsteps. It has a nice parking lot on the well-maintained County Road 200, just at the east end of the mountain. The last time we drove up there, I admired the “mountain base” from the parking lot, and thought that it would be nice to sit on a rock, under the shade of a tree on that mountainside, and that someone in a wheelchair could visit there quite easily.

Another aspect of this handsome mountain, is that it does not have an English name, nor a Spanish name, nor any nickname so far as we can determine.

Going beyond this point, we also chose this mountain because the County Commission of Saguache County are quite willing to have this mountain called “Mount Kiamia” (with the concurrence of the powers that be). The “board” says that, “The county has stated that they have no objection,” which is a far cry from the immediate and enthusiastic acceptance freely given by the county.

Another important consideration in choosing this site was the expectation that it would receive a lot of visitors, and while there were higher and more exciting peaks without names, this mountain has “near access,” which means it can be touched by anyone, no matter how old or feeble they might be. We are not all “mountain climbers” you know. Even with the near access, there are no roads or heavily traveled trails atop this mountain, and that is as it should be. Close access is good — stomping all over that lovely mountain is bad. I am sure there will be people who’d like to hike to the top, salute those fallen heroes, take photos to share with others, and come back down. God bless those still strong enough to climb up there.

Also, we chose this mountain because it is close enough to infrastructure that people can stay in nearby Salida, or in Saguache Colorado, and sleep within a few minutes of the mountain. You can easily view this tall mountain from Highway 285 at the top of Poncha Pass, and this might be as close as many folks would care to approach. They might just read a roadside sign, take a photo, and get on with their lives.

I expect that if this mountain becomes Mount Kiamia, then the cities of Salida, and Saguache, and other towns nearby, might need to build more motels and restaurants. Maybe some more jeep tour companies to facilitate guests who might come there to view this mountain, and honor the family members and friends who died fighting for America.

This mountain is close to Marshall Pass, from which one can see the mountain close-up. Rainbow Trail too, passes over the Continental Divide, and crosses the Colorado Trail about a mile from here, then it drops onto the south side of this mountain to descend into the stream course of Silver Creek, later emerging to climb out near Poncha Pass and proceed down the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. There are jeep trails on both sides of this mountain which in winter become snowmobile trails, so it can be “near accessed” year around.

Area trails are available for mountain biking as well as horse and mule riding. In winter there are groomed snowmobile trails on all sides of the mountain.

From the top of this unnamed mountain, one can see yet another “Sheep Mountain” to the south, just across Silver Creek. Not that far away to the southwest, and easily seen from that mentioned Sheep Mountain” there is yet another, “Sheep Mountain.” Oh yes, Colorado has herds of Sheep Mountains, and lots of “unnamed mountains,” and I’d love to see one of them named “Mount Kiamia” to honor all our KIA /MIA.

I still hope that Colorado will allow us to name a mountain as “Mount Kiamia,” and we will continue to work toward that end!