Scaling Mount Whatever

Someone in the neighborhood took a delivery of dirt to fill in low places in his yard. That was back in 2019. The mound is still there, waiting for him to get a moment free to move the dirt. The local toddlers find it nigh unto irresistible. Their mothers are less pleased. Some wag (not me) put a little flag on top giving the elevation.

It reminds me of a larger mound and a similarly free spirit.

I had to do research at the Kansas State Archive, in Topeka. At the time, the archive was the last thing on the west end of the city, north of I-70. The westernmost main north-south street with easy access was Wanamaker. My hotel was on Wanamaker, along with Sam’s and other stuff.

One day, as I went hunting for food, I noticed that the highway department had stashed a huge pile of gravel and fill in an empty lot. The next day, an official sign appeared warning people to stay off of the pile on pain of fines. Apparently the Powers That Be did not trust Topeka’s climbers and mountain-bike riders to resist temptation. As best I could tell, for the next week, the mound remained unmolested.

Then, one morning, a new sign appeared. Black on white, neatly lettered, it stood on a post atop the crest of the mound. “Mount Wanamaker. Elevation 975 feet. First climbed on [previous day’s date].” A US flag waved from a small stick attached to the top of the sign. I saw it and laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes.

Apparently the Highway Department had enough wisdom, or was blind enough, to leave the new sign alone. When I finished my work, a week or so later, the Mt. Wanamaker sign remained proudly in place for all to see.


6 thoughts on “Scaling Mount Whatever

  1. Great story!

    From that commanding height, they could probably see all the way to Colorado. Missouri, and Texas. 🙂

  2. That may explain the many relatively ancient mounds scattered around the country. They’re the leftovers of early Native American construction and repair projects!

  3. (Looks at *very* partially depleted gravel piles, placed January, 2019). No, I don’t see a problem. 🙂

    FWIW, the highest place in Illinois is an Indian burial mound (Charles Mound), located about a quarter mile from the Wisconsin border.

  4. To someone who has spent much time in the Mississippi Delta, Kansas doesn’t look flat at all…

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