A Nominal Nod to Cornell

18 12 2011

Whether or not one likes or dislikes Cornell and its environs, the university has been around long enough and produced enough graduates to have a fairly recognizable name as colleges and universities go. I happened to hear from a friend recently who had moved out to Colorado after graduation, and their experience in the Collegiate Peaks of Colorado. When I checked Wikipedia, I was dismayed to find that their were mountains named in those peaks named for Oxford, Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Columbia, but not Cornell. For what it’s worth, it appears they were named in the late 1860s and 1870s, when Cornell was still a fledgling school. But, I decided to do a google search for a “Mt. Cornell”.

While there wasn’t a “Mt. Cornell” anywhere in the world, there is a Cornell Peak named in honor of the university. The 9,750 ft. mountain is part of the San Jacinto Mountains in Southern California.  The mountain earned its name from a USGS topographer camping in the valley below with a geologist friend who was a graduate of Cornell, and remarked how the peak resembled McGraw Tower in appearance. Personally, I don’t see it, but the topographer named the mountain in honor of the university. Of much lesser note, there is a 3,860 ft. “Cornell Mountain” in the Catskills that is named for Thomas C. Cornell, a distant relative of Ezra.

Looking northward to a place even colder and less inviting than Ithaca in winter, on the west coast of Greenland there exists a “Cornell Glacier“. Similarly to the Collegiate Peaks, there is a collegiate set of glaciers in Alaska that Cornell was not a part of, the set consisting of the four aforementioned Ivies and Johns Hopkins.

On the more civilized end, the town of Cornell, Wisconsin (population 1467 as of the 2010 census) is named for Ezra and the university, due to its placement on the lands that the university once held as part of the Morrill land-grant in the late 19th century. The university has given this some light attention to this connection by writing an article referring to a blog written by a Cornell alum and his fact-finding adventures in the small community in northern cheesehead country. Apparently, the town was originally named Brunet Falls and is famous for having the only surviving pulpwood stacker, and like many other small towns with minor claims to fame, they make a festival out of it (considering my hometown’s claim to fame is the method a hose is laid on a fire engine, I have no right to be critical). Although it’s hard to tell whether communities named Cornell are named after Cornell U. or someone who happens that surname, at least two unincorporated communities are named for the school far above Cayuga, one in the U.P. of Michigan and one in Southern California north of Malibu (and a fair 100 miles from Cornell Peak). Cornell, Illinois and Cornell, Ontario are not related to the university.

Lest one try to limit themselves to the Earth, an asteroid was named in honor of Cornell in 1999 (8250 Cornell). I guess the next astronomical goal should be a large crater somewhere.

If it’s any consolation to the folks associated with Cornell College, they have a species of tropical fly named for their school.



One response

4 05 2012

How about genes named after Cornell? Anthony Bretscher’s lab has given the name “Ezrin” to a protein which forms links between the actin cytoskeleton and the plasma membrane.


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