In 1943 Cañon City renamed one of its peaks in honor of a former resident of Cañon City, Emory S. Land. The peak, topping in at 6,700 feet, had its name changed from YMCA Mountain to Lands Peak. It’s possible the peak was originally named YMCA Mountain because it was a popular location for members of the Y.M.C.A. (Young Men’s Christian Association) for hiking and climbing. The mountain, which is south of the Arkansas River, is visible while standing on Main Street.
Emory Scott Land was born in Cañon City in January 1879 and attended the old Washington School. He graduated in 1928 from the University of Wyoming before continuing on to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He worked in building ships for the Navy originally before moving up the ranks and jobs to Vice Admiral before deciding to retire in 1937. He didn’t stay retired for very long, being appointed as a commissioner of the United States Maritime Commission by President Roosevelt. He soon became chairman, serving in that position until 1946. He passed away in 1971 and the naval submarine tender, Emory S. Land (AS-39), is named after him.
Despite the city officials naming the peak after Land, it appears they never put in an application to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to have the name changed on federal maps. In 2000 an attempt was made to formally change the name to Lands Peak but it wasn’t approved. Due to the lack of evidence of local use and acceptance of the proposed name, the proposal was turned down. While he may not have the peak named after him, Land still gets recognition with the submarine named after him. And regardless of its name, the peak will be just as enjoyable whether it is known as YMCA Mountain or Lands Peak.
The information presented in this article is compiled using research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.