Located in the Umpqua National Forest near the town of Eugene, Oregon, Swastika Mountain was named in 1909 after a nearby town called Swastika (via KGW). CNN declares that the city no longer exists. However, the origins of the town’s name lie with a local rancher. NPR explains that the owner of this ranch marked his cattle with the symbol. At the time, the swastika was not associated with the Nazis or Hitler. Thus, it is believed that the breeder chose the symbol because it directly translates to “welfare”. When McClain went to the Geographic Names Board of Oregon and Oregon Historical Societythey were unaware of the existence of the mountain.
Smithsonian Magazine reports that the volunteer-run council is tasked with renaming water bodies and landscapes. Kerry Tymchuk, the historical society’s executive secretary, told NPR, “It’s not a very well-known mountain, and frankly, I didn’t know there was one.” By Willamette Week, Tymchuk explained that the council, which meets twice a year, does not revise any geographical names. Instead, it listens to submissions from concerned citizens who think a name might be inappropriate or even offensive. Despite this, Tymchuk acknowledged that the once innocuous meaning of Swastika Mountain has completely changed into something negative and “evil” (via NPR).