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Jess Jackson's bid to rename Black Mountain rejected

  • 7/16/2011: B1:
    7/14/2010: B1:
    7/10/2010: B1:
    9/2/2009: A1: Jess Jackson would like to rename Black Mountain, background, to Alexander Mountain. The road to his mountain vineyards off Geysers Road has already been named.
    PC: Jess Jackson would like to rename Black Mountain, background, to Alexander Mountain. The road to his mountain vineyards off of Geysers Road has already been named. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2009

The late wine mogul Jess Jackson's bid to rename a prominent mountain that loomed over his Alexander Valley estate has been rejected by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names.

On Thursday, it voted 11-0 to keep the name Black Mountain, citing no desire to remove the long-standing name of the 3,128-foot ridge.

The request to rename it to Alexander Mountain was made several years ago by Jackson Family Wines, owned by Jackson. He died in April at the age of 81 from cancer.

Jackson's representatives said they wanted to honor the legacy of pioneer settler Cyrus Alexander, and also distinguish it from three other Black Mountains in Sonoma County.

But the request drew strong opposition from some local residents as well as city councils in Healdsburg and Windsor.

"I did find Sonoma County people have a strong attachment to local history," said Gary Wilson, a Healdsburg accountant who fought the name switch and cheered Thursday's decision.

Members of the geographic board said there was no compelling reason to mess with the historical name of the mountain, which derived either from its dark appearance, or a family named Black that ranched in the vicinity.

"When a name's been in use for a long time — and those records showed it in use back to 1875 — then our predisposition is to keep the name," said Jon Campbell, a representative from the U.S. Department of Interior who sits on the board.

The California Advisory Committee on Geographic Names last summer recommended against the renaming. It gave a number of reasons, including citizen opposition and the appearance of an ulterior motive.

"There seemed to be a commercial implication in that the application has been made to create an Alexander Mountain wine appellation," committee chairwoman Barbara Wanish stated at the time.


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