By Jeanne Sager
SULLIVAN COUNTY February 15, 2002 Denman Mountains status as the countys highest summit may have peaked.
The mountain has long been designated the highest in the area, but Dick Ehrmann says the history books have it wrong.
A technician for the Sullivan County Soil and Water Conservation District, Ehrmann works daily on the United States Geological Survey (USGS) maps.
Our agency does work throughout the county and does a lot of work with USGS topographical maps, he explained.
In a soil survey accompanying those maps, Ehrmann discovered a footnote indicating that the highest point in Sullivan County is 3,118 feet above sea level.
Thats 65 feet higher than the famed Town of Neversink mountain the peak jutting into the sky when you enter Grahamsville.
The higher peak, Ehrmann said, is located in the Debruce area outside of Livingston Manor.
The USGS map depicts the mountain just inside the Sullivan County line near the border with Ulster County.
It has probably been overlooked, Ehrmann said, because it blends in with the mountainous terrain in that section of the county, whereas Denman Mountain is an impressive sight on the Neversink skyline.
Denman Mountain is very visible, Ehrmann explained. But this peak is not very pronounced.
The mountain, which is located near the Mongaup Pond State Campsite in Debruce, does boast hiking trails for visitors, however, maintained by the Department of Environmental Conservation.
The mountain is as yet unnamed, though Ehrmann approached the Board of Supervisors in 1991 to see if they wished to correct the error in nearly every county book and map that refers to Denman Mountain.
He received no reply, but tried again in 1999 with the Sullivan County Legislature.
I sort of sent it in as a joke, to see if theyd do anything with it, Ehrmann said.
He suggested the county name the peak Mount Sullivan, after the general the county was named for, or maybe Mount Schwarzkopf, in honor of one of the countrys most recent military heroes.
But the highest mountaintop designation has remained unchanged, and the Town of Rockland peak is still nameless, though some call it Beach Mountain, Ehrmann said.
According to Alan Sorensen, commissioner of the countys Planning and Community Development department, the county is unaware of the higher peak.
But the possibility of finding a higher mountain out there piqued his interest.
It would be a neat story if, after all these years, we find Denman Mountain isnt the highest point, he said. Its kind of interesting.
Ill be taking a look at those topographical maps.
According to County Historian John Conway, there were a number of different mountains listed in the history books as the highest in Sullivan County.
James Quinlans History of Sullivan County, which was published in 1873, implies that Denman is the highest peak in the county.
But the book lists the height at 2,300 feet. Todays maps show Denman Mountain to be at least 3,053 feet above sea level.
Though Conway could not pinpoint exactly when Denman Mountain was officially accepted as the highest point in the county, he surmised that other writers may have picked up on Quinlans logic and continued to describe the Neversink peak as the highest.
And according to Bill Burns at the Sullivan County Museum in Hurleyville, the peak was chosen for its height to be included in a proposed state run skiing area that could compete with the Belleayre resort in the late 1950s.
For now, Denman remains listed officially as the highest point, even in county documents.