Montana Geographic Names Advisor

Geographic Name Change Request

Bad Medicine Spires
Lincoln County, Montana

Status = Approved

Description Cliff, elevation 4,850 ft, height approximately 1,830 ft, in the Kootenai National Forest in the Cabinet Mountains 2.2 mi SSE of Stanley Mountain, 1 mi E of Mount Vernon
Location 48°13’46”N, 115°52’18”W
PLSS Location Sec 31, T29N, R33W and Sec 5, T28N, R33W
Proposal to make official a name reported to be in local use
Proponent Rob Neils; Spokane Valley, Washington
Administrative area Kootenai National Forest
Previous BGN Action None
See also 40701
GNIS ID 2746460
Local Usage None found
Published None found
The name Bad Medicine Spires is proposed for an area of approximately 525 acres in the Kootenai National Forest overlooking Bull Lake that rises approximately 1,830 feet from its base. The proponent describes it as “a geological formation of gigantic castle-like pinnacles looking like magnificent stalagmites arranged cliff-like along a fault line where Mt Vernon’s eastern quarter split/slipped away to the east, leaving castle-like rock towers. From bottom to top some of these “castles” approach 1,000 feet in height. There are about a dozen. The multitude of colors in the weather-cracked rocks which comprise the “castles” is, in early light, breath-taking. Shale screes between pinnacles slope steeply to the bottom of the obvious fault line.” He further states that they “are famous to the locals for the seven-fold echo reverberated back to the noise-maker who stands on Highway 56 south of the Halfway House where the highway borders Bull Lake. Rock climbers are unable to safely scale the vertical sides of the “castles” because the composition of the rocks is so cracked and easily broken that climbing aids are useless.”

The proponent of Bad Medicine Spires originally proposed it as Castle Cliffs, which is what his family always called it, but changed the proposal after being informed that the local Forest Service office and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes responded that the area was more commonly known as Bad Medicine or Bad Medicine Spires. An individual who states that she has lived in the area for 16 years and was employed at one time by the U.S. Forest Service submitted a competing proposal to name the feature Bad Medicine. She said that she preferred that they do not have an official name and withdrew her proposal when she was informed that the Castle Cliffs proposal was changed to Bad Medicine Spires. A U.S. Forest Service recreation site located on the western shore of Bull Lake and just below the cliff is already named Bad Medicine Campground.

The Montana State Names Authority (SNA) posted the information on its web site and released a public request for comments. The local newspaper and a local TV station published articles about the naming effort. 57 responses were received, with 21 favoring the name “Bad Medicine,” all but two of which opposed the inclusion of the generic term “Spires.” 18 respondents preferred “Bad Medicine Spires” and three were not opposed to it. Sixteen respondents offered other names, with a total of 23 names suggested. Eighteen of these were reported to be in local use (such as Bad Medicine Mountain, Broke-Off Mountain, Castle Rocks, The Cliffs at Bad Medicine, Mount Vernon Hoodoos, and The Pinnacles). Six new names were put forth, including Bad Medicine Sentinels and Indian Medicine Spires. The Lincoln County Commissioners responded that they are not opposed to the proposal for Bad Medicine Spires.

The SNA stated, “While there is no requirement that a name must contain a generic part, most names of geographic features that lack a generic imply the existence of an object. There is nothing in 'Bad Medicine' to indicate that the name applies to a particular feature. Some of the respondents indicated that ‘Bad Medicine’ refers to a region rather than to the cliffs. It would be reasonable for a person unfamiliar with the area who sees 'Bad Medicine' on a map to assume that the label refers to an area rather than to a specific thing.” The U.S. Forest Service also recommends that the name Bad Medicine Spires be approved.

Comments Received by the Montana Geographic Names Advisor
Montana Geographic Names Advisor Recommendation - Support (Wednesday, April 3, 2013)
Domestic Names Committee Decision Date - Thursday, April 11, 2013
Domestic Names Committee Discussion - A motion was made and seconded to approve this name.
Vote: 10 in favor
0 against
0 abstentions

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