Due to the lack of existing names, the Marshall brothers first referred to two peaks in the Dix Range as South Dix and East Dix. In his book, Carson notes, “The most interesting fact about [South Dix and East Dix] is that their names are not important enough to be retained and that they can be given distinctive titles, when the right occasion comes, without violation of old-established names” (Carson 223). Little did he know that a century later, this 4,060-foot peak would soon be granted a new name- his name.
In 1923, Russell M.L. “Little Mac” Carson found himself inspired by The High Peaks of the Adirondacks, a pocket-sized booklet written by Bob Marshall as a climbing guide to the High Peaks. An Adirondack historian and climber, Carson undertook a five-year period of research that resulted in the 1927 publication of his book, Peaks and People of the Adirondacks. Carson also convinced the Marshalls and Clark to add four overlooked mountains to their original list of forty-two High Peaks, establishing the modern-day list of forty-six.
After publishing his book, Carson continued to research and write about the Adirondacks for several publications, including the Adirondack Mountain Club’s High Spots magazine, an ADK newsletter called The Cloud Splitter, and his own outdoor recreation column “The Footpath.” He also served as an original member and president of the Adirondack Mountain Club, president of the New York State School Board Association, and a trustee for the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks.
In 1989, Barbara McMartin reported the beginnings of a movement to change East Dix to Clark, with support from George Marshall and the executive committee of the Adirondacks. After consulting the opinion of Grace Hudowalski, who felt that the mountains had been “permanently” named and shouldn’t be tampered with, the 46ers also opposed the change.
In fall of 2002, the 46ers appointed a “Grace Peak Committee,” who would lead the campaign for changing the names of East Dix to Grace and South Dix to Carson. Recognizing the extremely significant roles these two individuals played in Adirondack Mountain History, they submitted a formal proposal to the New York State Committee on Geographic Names in 2009. As of 2019, the change to Carson has not been recognized, so the mountain is still officially known as South Dix. However, “Carson” has gained increasing popularity over the past decade, especially as its use spreads through social media. Adirondack locals, the 46ers, and other hikers continue to promote the name change.
The first recorded ascent of this peak occurred in 1921 by the Marshall brothers and Herbert Clark. S. R. Lockwood, however, claims to have summited the peak in 1913 when he and a friend got lost on their way to Dix Mountain. Today, Carson is typically climbed with the other four peaks in the Dix Range.
Heaven up-H’isted-Ness!: The History of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers and the High Peaks of the Adirondacks. Adirondack Forty-Sixers, 2011.