Dog Turd Peak?

 Pilot and Index Peaks. How did they get their names?

The source of the names Pilot and Index peaks is an interesting study. The first recorded name for these two peaks (Index Peak included) was Dog Turd Peak, a moniker bestowed by none other than A. Bart Henderson, leader of the prospecting group including Horn Miller, generally recognized as the founder of Cooke City. This name was recorded in Henderson's journal. Pilot peak is most probably a referrence to the title given to scouts that investigated and planned the route of travel, be it for a hunting party, a band of prospectors or a military group. This explanation is questioned based upon the fact that Pilot peak is not visible in the same manner as other mountains used for referrence, but is surrounded by peaks which severely limits the distance which the peak can be identified - unless one were to climb to the top of other large peaks in the area of Greater Yellowstone. Then Pilot can be viewed from a great distance. However, Pilot peak is the name given to the mountain by prospectors in the Clark's Fork valley where the peak was of value as an important landmark.

Prior to this time, there is no recorded mention of the peak by early trappers. Ferdinand Hayden, (Hayden Survey), accepted the name Pilot Peak as used by the Clarks Fork prospectors, and it was so noted in his survey.

Ferdinand Hayden viewed Index Peak from Daisy Pass. As he looked across the valley, Index was very prominent but from this position Pilot faded in the background. To Hayden, Index resembled a fist with the index finger protruding upward. He then took the liberty of naming it Finger Peak


 William Henry Holmes Drawing
 William Henry Holmes, mapmaker for the expedition, agreed with Hayden on the name of Pilot Peak, but due to possible mis-interpretation, felt it better to label the second peak Index instead of Finger Peak. Through the years the peaks have been referred to as Pilot and Index, however early map makers frequently transposed the names.

 Copyright 2005 Michael J. Kay
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