Negro Mountain: A Philadelphia representative’s 8-year quest to change the racist name

negro mountain

The highest point in Pennsylvania falls along a 30-mile stretch of land in Somerset County called Negro Mountain, and a Philadelphia representative has been laboring for eight years to try to change the name of it… to no avail.

You know Pennsylvania has some weirdly-named towns (Virginville is about an hour from Intercourse), but the state actually has a mountain so wildly racist that cartographers don’t even bother to put it on most maps of the state. They call it Mount Davis, which is technically the summit of Negro Mountain at 3,213 feet tall.

The stretch of mountains that goes through both Pennsylvania and parts of Maryland is named after a black frontiersman named Nemesis who was injured and killed in 1756 after sacrificing himself to save fellow soldiers during the French and Indian War — it was actually honoring him.

Philly Rep. Rosita Youngblood has been introducing resolutions since 2007 to change the name to “Nemesis Mountain,” which not only honors the name of the man who sacrificed himself, but sounds completely badass.

Youngblood’s spokesman Bill Thomas said, remarkably, it’s taken eight years of the resolution being introduced every year, and finally they’ve figured out how it needs to get done. Thomas said Youngblood never received a response from the Gov. Tom Corbett administration when they asked for assistance researching how to go about changing the name.

But Gov. Tom Wolf has been been in office just 28 days and has already provided guidance for Youngblood — representatives from his administration found that the federal geological survey actually has to rename it. Youngblood’s resolution was amended this year so that if the state government passes it, it will simply urge the feds to change the name.

Thomas said a resolution introduced by Youngblood in 2013 to change the name of the mountain went away to die in the Committee on State Government which is chaired by Daryl Metcalfe, a western Pennsylvania Republican who’s known for being one of the most conservative lawmakers, like, ever.

“The pushback we get is very much a ‘this is our history, this is our portion of the state, why is this Philly rep trying to change what we have here in western PA?’” Thomas said.

And alas, there are actual people who don’t want the name Negro Mountain to be changed to something far more tasteful that actually honors the person instead of his skin color. Meet Carolyn, a white blogger who says basically: Nah, Negro isn’t even derogatory. Duly noted, Carolyn.


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