UPDATE: March 18, 2015
The U.S. Board on Geographic Names on Thursday approved the map correction outlined in this blog post. The change was made on a vote of 15-0 with one abstention after the board heard the explanation about why the correction was needed.
If you check for the name “Heins” on the Geographic
Names Information System, the official names database, you will
find updated coordinates for Heins and Alexander lakes. If you plot
the coordinates, you’ll probably find that the map still bears the
incorrect name. I’m not aware of any map that has been updated, but
this should take place over time, according to officials with the
U.S. Geological Survey.
A pair of lakes long hidden within Bremerton’s vast watershed — Heins Lake and Alexander Lake — should have their names reversed on future maps, according to officials with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.
The switch-around is designed to correct a map error that apparently occurred in 1953.
The map correction, scheduled to be endorsed March 12 by the federal naming board, will fulfill efforts by Sue Hein Plummer to get the maps corrected. Sue is a descendant of the homesteader for whom Heins Lake is named.
I met Sue in 2012 when I accompanied members of her family to the old homestead in the watershed (Kitsap Sun, Sept. 30, 2012). It was then that Sue told me that the names had been reversed on an old Metsker’s map sometime after 1928, and she had been unable to convince the mapmakers to change it back.
Sue is a history buff and the genealogist in the family. The old homestead was closest to Heins Lake, which has been called Alexander Lake on all modern maps.
It frustrated her that mapmakers wanted to leave the names alone, wrong as they were. She knew that if she did not get the names corrected soon, they could stay wrong for all eternity. Odd as it seems, we might be stuck with Heins Creek running out of Alexander Lake. when it should be associated with Heins Lake, she said.
I told her about the Washington State Committee on Geographic Names, which has the power to change any name in the state. With her extensive research, I thought she would eventually convince both the state and federal naming boards to make an official change.
It never went that far, because staff of both boards came to recognize the error, so a name change was not needed. All that is needed is to change the location of Heins and Alexander lakes in the Geographic Names Information System — a database that records the official names and locations of geographic features.
During an investigation, Jennifer Runyon, a staff researcher for the U.S. board, found some field notes from 1953, in which two people working at the Gorst Creek pumping station said the name of the northern lake should be Heins — opposite of what the maps said in 1937 and before.
Here’s what a typed portion of the notes say:
“The name Alexander Lake would apply to the southernmost lake, according to those who work for the Bremerton watershed and are familiar with the area. According to the city engineer, the northernmost lake has long been known as Alexander. This view would seem most widespread locally…”
In handwriting, these notes follow:
“according to the city engineer. Though the city engineer’s view seemed possible, it was not in accordance with the personnel who work with the name daily at the Gorst Creek pump plant.”
The notes named the two plant workers who must have gotten the names turned around: “Mr. Jarstad, foreman of the Gorst Creek Pump Plant,” and “O.R. Moritz, pump operator.”
“Mr. Jarstad” is presumably Otto Jarstad, for whom the city park at the abandoned pump plant is named.
Sue Hein Plummer thinks the mistake may have been made on some maps before 1953 and that Jarstad and Moritz just wanted to leave the names alone.
Kitsap County Auditor’s Office has already made the change on county maps. Runyon told me the change is likely to be made in the federal database within two days of the March 12 meeting of the U.S. Board of Geographic Names, — assuming no further issues arise.
By the way, Heins Lake — which probably should have been “Hein’s Lake” based on the name Hein — now belongs to Ueland Tree Farm as a result of a land trade with the city of Bremerton. At least that’s what the maps indicate. Check out Josh Farley’s story, Kitsap Sun, April 14, 2014. Once the maps get corrected, Ueland will actually own Alexander Lake — the northernmost lake — and Heins Lake will remain in the Bremerton watershed.