Deeper Into Jeopardy! X: Miscellaneous – $800

Jeopardy! category: MISCELLANEOUS (17-04-2014)

$800 clue: This national park & preserve named for the highest peak in North America is bigger than New Hampshire

Correct response

The gist: The peak is also known as Mount McKinley, but unfortunately for contestant Thad, the Park and Preserve is not – and not without controversy.The Denali National Park and Preserve in the interior of Alaska was founded in 1917 as Mount McKinley National Park thanks to conservationist Charles Sheldon’s petitioning of Congress to establish a sanctuary for the native Dall sheep of the region. In 1980, however, the Park’s territory was expanded by four million acres and given its current name.

Both “Denali” and “Mount McKinley” refer to the highest summit in the United States,* but the names are, strictly speaking, not interchangeable. “Denali” means “the big one” in the Koyukon Athabaskan language, one of the many languages spoken by Alaskan natives (and, consequently, one of the mountain’s many Native names). The Alaska Board of Geographic Names officially changed the mountain’s name from McKinley (as it was named by prospector William Dickey in 1897 for American President William McKinley) to Denali in 1957, and petitioned the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to do the same. The petition was thwarted, however, by Ohio congressman Ralph Regula, whose district included the city of Canton where Pres. McKinley settled after serving in the Civil War. Regula would thwart several more attempts to change the mountain’s name at the federal level during his career (since his 2009 retirement, other Ohioan officials have taken up the torch). Thus, the mountain is officially Denali at the state level, but Mount McKinley at the national.

But besides all that, the Park and Preserve is composed mainly of tundra, while generally stunted spruce and willow dominate the forests of the warmer lowlands. Grizzly and black bears, wolves, caribou, moose, and the aforementioned Dall sheep are among the region’s large mammals, joined by many smaller species as well as a large number of migratory birds in the summertime. Several fish swim in its waters, but it’s home to only one amphibian, the wood frog. Hiking, climbing, and camping are popular activities year-round, while skiing, snowmobiling, and dog-sledding can be enjoyed in the long winter.

A landscape of the Park and Preserve with Denali/Mount McKinley looming in the background

The clue: I wonder if Jen, who gave the correct response after the other contestants offered both Whitney (the highest peak in the continental U.S.) and Mount McKinley, knew the answer to begin with or reacted to Mount McKinley being incorrect. Either way, the clue is tricky because of everything that was discussed above. This one isn’t merely asking what the highest summit in the U.S. is with a fancy wrapping around it – it genuinely requires you know about the Park itself. It also chose to say it’s bigger than New Hampshire; Wikipedia, mildly interestingly opts for Massachusetts.

In Jeopardy!: Well, the Park and Preserve only shows up in this one clue in the J!Archive, but “Denali” by itself is in 23 and one FJ! clue. It’s almost always given in a clue to ask for it’s “other” name or for Alaska. Conversely, clues with “Mount McKinley,” naturally, often involve the namesake president. And don’t worry – if the clue is actually looking for the mountain itself, and in the absence of another disqualifying hint, either name is acceptable.

*Although Mauna Kea in Hawaii is taller if measured from its base on the ocean floor.

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