About Arch Names

        Originally, the naming of arches and bridges was very simple. If a person discovered a natural span, he (or she) had the privilege of naming it. This rule is immediately seen to have many holes in it. A hiker runs across a span and because it is in a remote area, he thinks he has discovered a new arch. What he doesn't know is that many Native Americans knew of the arch long ago; and not only that, local ranchers knew about it years ago and were not concerned about a name. The ranchers may have named it; but later "discoverers" didn't like the name and re-named it. Many of the arches in Arches National Park were adopted back in the '30s, '40s, or'50s and many names stuck. Others had early names which were later changed by the Park Service. Arches continued to be discovered in the Park for many years; and most were simply "Un-named".

        In the 1980s, the late J. Edward Mc Carrick and Dale J. Stevens made an extensive survey of the Park, discovering and naming many new arches, and naming many previously known but un-named arches. Their work is published in a book, "The Arches of Arches National Park". Two supplements have since been published . The Park Service apparently recognizes the names the authors assigned, although the book is not an official government publication. Chapter 3 of the book is devoted to the naming of arches.

        The U.S. Geological Survey is the parent organization of the Names Committee of the United States Board on Geographical Names. The on-line file created by this Committee is called the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). This Committee has named thousands of geographical features under a number of different categories among which is "arches" (the category also includes natural bridges). While the names the Committee assigns to arches are considered to be authoritative, sometimes the assigned names are not the ones generally accepted by the public. If the author has assigned a name to a span which does not correspond to the GNIS name, it is because he is of the opinion that it is not the commonly accepted name. The viewer can easily verify an arch name by logging on to http://geonames.usgs.gov/ .

        For spans outside the Park, the author uses names he believes are in common use. For spans inside the Park, he uses the names in the Stevens-McCarrick book.


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