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April 2002 Issue
The Geographical Review
April 2002, Vol. 92 (2), pp. 155-179
Colorado Fourteeners and the Nature of Place Identity
Kevin S. Blake
Keywords: Colorado, cultural geography, landscape, mountain geography, place
identity, Rocky Mountains.
The fifty-four Colorado Fourteeners--mountains more than 14,000 feet in elevation--were early symbols of westward expansion, mineral wealth, and wondrous scenery, and they are increasingly popular as environmental icons in place attachment at national, regional, state, and local scales. The symbolism of this contrived yet iconic collection of peaks is examined through the evolution of the Fourteener concept, the popularity of peakbagging, and the role of the Sawatch Range Fourteeners in creating a larger community identity. Elevation is the gatekeeper into the Fourteener club, in which a distinctive landscape iconography of shape, accessibility, and aesthetics reflects the role of idealized nature and mountains in place identity.