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Carpenter Hill previously climbed Mon, Jan 16, 2006|
Mt. Diablo previously climbed Fri, Mar 26, 2004
Mt. Diablo (3,849 ft.)
At a willow thicket several miles northeast of here, (near present-day Buchanan Field) the soldiers encountered a village of Chupan people and surrounded it. But that night, evidently all the Indians escaped. Angry and confused, the Spanish called the site 'Monte del Diablo' or 'Thicket of the Devil.' Later, English-speaking newcomers mistakenly assumed the word 'monte' to mean 'mountain,' and applied the title to this prominent East Bay peak. A linguistic accident thus gave California its Devil Mountain.
General Mariano Vallejo's account was somewhat different. In an 1850 version, Vallejo
placed the incident at the foot of Mt. Diablo, claiming that the Spanish were routed
when an 'unkown personage' or 'evil spirit' appeared. In 1914 Vallejo's son, Platon,
made his father the hero who lassoed this 'agent of his master, the devil.'"
- from a plaque located on the summit of Mt. Diablo
"The earliest name of the mountain was apparently San Juan Bautista (Dalrymple 1790). In Oct. 1811, Ramon Abella's diary mentions the peak as Cerro Alto de los Bolbones ('high hill of the Bolbones', i.e., the Indians who live at its foot). The ridge was later designated as Sierra de los Bolbones (or Golgones, and other variants). The name Monte del Diablo 'devil's woods' appears on the Plano topografico de la Mision de San Jose about 1824, where there was an Indian rancheria perhaps near a thicket at the approximate site of the present town of Concord. On Aug. 24, 1828, the name was applied to the Monte del Diablo land grant for which Salvio Pacheco had petitioned in 1827. Vallejo's Report of 1850 tells the story of a fight between a detachment of soldiers from the San Francisco presidio and the Indians at the foot of the mountain in 1806. The appearance of 'an unknown personage, decorated with the most extraordinary plumage,' made the soldiers take to their heels, believing the devil had allied himself with the Indians; then and there they applied the present name to the mountain. This is quite certainly fanciful. Marsh in 1850 stated that Vallejo was incorrect in placing the engagement near the mountain and that it had occurred in the vicinity of a thicket of willows near the house of Salvio Pacheco (i.e. near present-day Concord) at a later date. The name was transferred to the peak by non-Spanish explorers who associated 'monte' with a mountain and applied the Italian form Monte Diavolo or Diabolo. Belcher (1:119, writing in 1837) calls the range Sierra Bolbones and speaks of 'the high range of the Montes Diavolo' on his left (!) as he entered the Sacramento River. The Wilkes expedition of 1841 definitely fixed the name on the lofty mountain peak. Duflot de Mofras cautiously gives both names in 1844, Monte del Diablo and Sierra de los Bolbones (plan 16). Finally, Fremont and Preuss, on their map of 1848, give the proper latitude and call it Mount Diabolo. Trask's and other maps of the early 1850s established the modern spelling, although Monte Diablo is found as late as 1873 (Hoffmann). The orographic identity of the range headed by Mount Diablo was recognized by cartographers in Mexican and early American times. The BGN (May 15, 1908) designated the entire range from Carquinez Strait to Antelope Valley in Kern Co. as Diablo Range to distinguish it from the other chains of the Coast Ranges. (In recent years the expression 'Mount San Diablo' is sometimes heard.) Diablo post office is listed in 1917.
word for Satan was used repeatedly for other place names in Spanish times, although
not as often as the word 'devil' in American times. It occurs in two other land
grants: Rincon del Diablo [San Diego], May 18, 1843; and Canada del Diablo (or San
Miguel) [Ventura Co.], May 30, 1845. Point Diablo [Marin Co.] and Diablo Point
[Santa Cruz Island] can also be traced to Spanish times. Other Diablos in various
counties were applied in American times. See Devil.
- Erwin G. Gudde, California Place Names
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Carpenter Hill - Mt. Diablo
This page last updated: Sat Apr 23 18:11:07 2011
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