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Mt. Diablo is located in Contra Costa County, in the eastern San Francisco Bay area of California. An isolated upthrust peak of 3,849 feet (1,173 m), visible from most of the San Francisco area, and from the peak the Sierra Nevada is plainly visible on clear days. Lassen Peak, 181 miles (291 km) away, is occasionally visible over the curve of the earth, as is Sentinel Dome in Yosemite National Park. Many mountains in the state are taller, but Diablo has a remarkable visual prominence for a mountain of such low elevation. Its looming presence over much of the bay area, delta, and Central Valley made it an important landmark for mapping and navigation. Shortly after statehood, its south peak was selected as the initial point for cadastral surveys of parts of California, Nevada, and Oregon. Standard Oil erected the 10-million-candlepower "Eye of Diablo" there in 1928; the aerial navigation beacon was visible for a hundred miles. But the name, "Devil's Mountain," is ahistorical. In 1805 several Chupcan fled from Spanish peonage and seemed to disappear into a nearby willow thicket, which the authorities labeled "monte del diablo" ("thicket of the devil"); the same name was given to a native settlement in 1828 was applied to the land grant there given to Salvio Pacheco (modern Concord). The Anglos who took over the area after the Mexican War misinterpreted "monte" as mountain and thought the name applied to the nearby peak rather than the settlement. About two dozen independent tribal groups with well-defined territories used to live in the area, speaking dialects of three distinct languages (Ohlone, Bay Miwok, and Northern Valley Yokuts). The territory of the Volvon people, a Bay Miwok-speaking tribe, included most of the mountain, so the Spanish called the mountain "Cerro Alto de los Bolbones" (High Point of the Volvon). The Miwok and Ohlone believed the mountain was the point of creation: Molok the Condor brought forth his grandson Wek-Wek the Falcon Hero, from within the mountain; or, alternatively, the creator Coyote and his assistant Eagle-man made people and the world from two islands (Mts. Diablo and Tamalpais) when the region was a vast sea. The Chochenyo-speaking Ohlone called the mountain Tuyshtak, meaning "at the dawn of time," the Southern Miwok name was Supemenenu, and the Nisenan of the Sacramento Valley called it Sukkú Jaman, "the place where dogs came from in trade." In 1866 the California Legislature's Committee on Public Morals tableda proposal to rename the mountain Kahwookum, supposedly a Native American name, though there is no evidence to confirm the assertion, and in 1916 real estate developers renewed the proposal, claiming it was a Volvon name meaning "Laughing Mountain." In 2005 Arthur Mijares, from the neighboring town of Oakley, began petitioning the government to change its name to Mt. Kawukum, since its current name offended his Christian beliefs. He also claimed Diablo is a "living person," so using his name is banned under federal law. In other attempts he also proposed Mt. Yahweh and Mt. Reagan.
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