Mount Marshall was named after brothers George and Herbert Marshall, two of the three original Adirondack 46ers. Enthusiastic outdoorsmen who grew up in New York City, the Marshall brothers, along with their friend and guide Herbert Clark, became the first to summit all of the Adirondack High Peaks, recording first ascents of eight of the mountains (both Colvin and Phelps have seven). Following their ascent of Whiteface in 1918, the brothers created a list of High Peaks with three standards: above 4,000 feet in elevation, with at least 300 feet of rise on each side, and be at least three-quarters of a mile from neighboring peaks along the same ridge line. The trio also recorded the first known ascent of this peak in June of 1921.
The etymological history of this name is perhaps the most confusing of all the peaks. In Carson’s Peaks and People of the Adirondacks, he applies the name “Mount Marshall” to a mountain in the Dix Range- a High Peak now known as Hough Peak. Mount Marshall, however, now refers to the southernmost peak of the McIntyre Range, which stands at 4,360 feet in elevation as the twenty-fifth highest peak in the Adirondacks. In 1880, Colvin refers to the peak as “Mount Clinton,” after DeWitt Clinton, a New York governor and naturalist. In his book, Carson calls this mountain “Herbert Peak,” a name that had been mistakenly been applied to Iroquois Peak by the Marshall brothers after their beloved hiking companion. While Carson attempted to use the publication of his book to officially transpose the name “Herbert Peak” to present-day Mount Marshall, his attempts to honor 46er #1 ultimately failed.
Nevertheless, his arguments for naming the peak after important figures in Adirondack History were ultimately used to petition for the mountain’s current name. After Bob Marshall’s premature death in 1939, the 46ers of Troy petitioned state and federal boards of geographic names to name the peak Mount Marshall. Because a recently passed state regulation prevented the naming of natural objects after a living person, “Herbert Peak” was not a conceivable option because Herbert Clark was still living at this time. While the state board approved their petition in 1942, a topographical map in 1953 listed the peak as “Mount Clinton.” Thus, it took another two decades of petitions to the U.S. Board of Geographic names to finally approve the peak name in 1972.
While the 46ers succeeded in their goal, they also trampled right over the chances of having a peak named after Herbert Clark, the first official 46er. The 46ers did name the brook alongside Mount Marshall’s trail “Herbert Brook,” using the stream that leads hikers up Mount Marshall to pay respect to the man who guided the Marshalls up the forty-six.
Heaven up-H’isted-Ness!: The History of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers and the High Peaks of the Adirondacks. Adirondack Forty-Sixers, 2011.