by Doug McClure
HARDWICK – Resident Mike Lance has been working since last summer to correct an oversight that led to Buffalo Mountain not being recognized officially at the state and federal levels.
He said he received word on New Year’s Eve that the federal recognition by the US Geological Survey (USGS) had been approved. Jennifer Runyon of the USGS’ U.S. Board on Geographic Names said that the name was approved at the board’s December 9 meeting. She added that a system upgrade in process meant it may be until January before it begins appearing in the official names database.
Lance said “Finally, after more than 150 years and multiple appearances in official state and federal documents, news articles, and television features, Buffalo Mountain has been officially recognized. This will also confirm that Buffalo Mountain is the one that looms close to and almost 70 stories above downtown Hardwick, and not more distant Woodbury Mountain, which unfortunately looks so much like the back of a buffalo. Buffalo Mountain is only one of many well-known geographic features in Vermont that aren’t officially recognized in either state or federal databases.”
Last summer, Lance began the process of petitioning Vermont State Librarian Jason Broughton, as well as the USGS, to officially recognize the mountain’s name. While most in the area know the mountain as Buffalo Mountain, and it has appeared frequently in newspaper articles, historical references, and other places such as the town logo and multiple business’ names, there was no official recognition of it by either state or federal government. In submitting the petition, Lance received letters of support for the petition from the Hardwick Select Board, Hardwick Historical Society, East Hardwick Neighborhood Organization, and Chief Donald Stevens, Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk, of the Abenaki Nation. Chief Stevens provided a letter allaying any concerns people might have about cultural misappropriation.
The letter of support from the select board described Buffalo Mountain as “a commanding figure to town residents,” a “well-known peak,” and noted, “Buffalo Mountain long held a position of interest and history.” The letter cited Buffalo Hill Quarry, which was active during Hardwick’s “granite heyday.” The board wrote that it was surprised that despite the prominence of the name “Buffalo Mountain” in local parlance, no official recognition existed. “It comes as a surprise that the peak is not recorded in Vermont’s list of geographic features.”
Elizabeth Dow, President of the Hardwick Historical Society (HHS), who is also a select board member, wrote in the HHS letter of support that “the names appear in both the U.S. Department of the Interior’s USGS Bulletin 404 in 1909, ‘The Granites of Vermont,’ and the Report of the State Geologist on the Mineral Industries and Geology of Vermont, 1915-1916.”
Lance also sourced multiple state and federal documents in support of the naming petition, as well as news articles from 1891 to the present day, all of which use the descriptor “Buffalo Mountain” as a commonly understood geographical feature of Hardwick. Far more than double the required number of people signed Lance’s petition for official recognition of the name.