On what would have been President Ronald Reagan's 102nd birthday last month, devotees of the Gipper sought to put his memory into stone, by submitting a proposal to the Nevada Board of Geographic Names to rename Frenchman Mountain outside of Las Vegas "Mount Reagan."
"Only 13 presidents have been honored with a mountain," Chuck Muth, a former executive director of the American Conservative Union and Nevada activist heading the Mt. Reagan effort tells Whispers. "We certainly believe Reagan's accomplishments rank right up there."
But the proposal to rename the 4,052-foot Nevada summit has since run into a few hitches. Muth says the Nevada Board of Geographic Names told him Frenchman Mountain was technically a "peak" not a "mount" and that he needed to resubmit the proposal. Muth pushed back on that idea and the board will now consider his proposal in May.
Jack Hursh, the executive secretary of the Nevada board, tells Whispers he has received a "range of thought on how appropriate it is" to rename the mountain Mt. Reagan. Some have complained that Reagan, who was born in Illinois and spent many of his pre-White House days in California, wasn't a Nevadan. Others have said the name would sound foreign after years of calling the landform Frenchman Mountain.
Resistance to Reagan mountains aren't new. Conservative groups for years have been pushing the idea of Gipper's face being added alongside the four presidents etched in stone at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. But the National Park Service says the idea isn't physically possible.
"There is no additional rock that is suitable for carving," Maureen McGee-Ballinger, the National Parks Service's public information officer for Mt. Rushmore, tells Whispers. "You're talking about granite, and there isn't a way to add to that granite to create another sculpture."
But Tom Griffith, author of "America's Shrine of Democracy," a pictorial history of Mt. Rushmore, says that's not entirely true. "Nothing is impossible. Fifteen miles away at the Crazy Horse [sculpture] they're carving a fifth face... Mountain carving can still be done," he says. But Griffith doesn't think Reagan, who wrote the forward to his book "America's Shrine," would have been keen to add his own face to a sculpture that was finished in 1941. "I don't think he would have actively supported such an outlandish suggestion," he says.
Even if Reagan never gets a mountain, plenty of other places memorialize the 40th president. More than 3,000 landmarks are currently named after him, largely thanks to efforts of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, a side project of anti-tax campaigner Grover Norquist. "This is Grover's baby," Anna Henderson, executive director of the legacy project, tells Whispers of the Reagan memorials. "It's a huge passion of his."
In addition to the proposal for Mt. Reagan, Norquist's group is also working to save a boyhood home of Reagan's from being torn down in Chicago and to name a street after him in Northwest D.C.