A Butte Called Mollie’s Nipple

Oct 23, 2015 2 comments

Mollie's Nipple (also spelled Mollies Nipple, without an apostrophe) is a basalt-capped hill that rises more than 1,300 feet above the surrounding plain in Utah’s Hurricane Valley. The hill is actually a butte — an isolated hill with steep sides and a small flat top — and like most buttes with a gradually slopping base and small peak, resembles the female anatomy. It is said that John Kitchen, a pioneer of an early exploration of Utah, upon seeing the hill was so filled with memories of his wife Molly, that he named the peak as a complement to his wife’s body part.


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Factreference.org, however, has a different take on the name’s origin. Its web page explains:

The term Molly (as well as Molley and Mollie) was slang for a harlot, or a prostitute going back to at least the early 1700s. The origin for most of the summits listed below is this early slang usage of the name. Anyone with an ancestor by the name of Molly who was an early settler in these areas might assume it was named for their pioneer relative. So, family stories handed down over the years may claim just such an attribution. But this is rarely ever the case.

Mollie's Nipple in Hurricane Valley isn’t the only hill called by that name. According to Wikipedia, there are at least seven peaks within Utah that share the same name, and by some accounts, there may be as many as eleven. So either John Kitchen went on a hill-naming rampage through the desert state, or the etymology as described by Factreference.org is correct.

In any case, Mollie's Nipple was a well known landmark to the early pioneer explorers, and before them, the hill held a significant place among the indigenous peoples that inhabited the area. According to Utah Department of Heritage and Arts, the butte was used to rally seed gathering parties and hunting expeditions by lighting fires and sending up smoke signals that could be seen from far away. Below the Nipple, archeologists have found caves that were used in ancient times for shelter and cooking. Climbers have also found some old pottery atop the Nipple.

Those who climb are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the surrounding area, from the glistening Sand Hollow Reservoir to the south-west, to the Red Cliffs of the Dixie National forest in the north-west and the Pine Valley Mountain beyond. Immediately to the north east and at the base of Mollies Nipple is the Frog Hollow Canyon. To the east are the towering mountains of Zion National Park and the Kolob Plateau.


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Sources: St George News / Wikipedia


  1. And now for the annual Festivus ritual of airing of grievances :)

  2. There was a mountain in Southern Oregon called Squaw Tit but they changed it to something not so crude.


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