Rhode Island's High Point Becomes Easier to Reach Robert Siegel talks to Roger Rowlett, the chairman of the Highpointers Club. The club, devoted to people who seek to climb the highest point in all 50 states, had rated the 812-foot Jerimoth Hill in Rhode Island as the most inaccessible high point in the country. But recently a change in ownership has opened up the high point.

Rhode Island's High Point Becomes Easier to Reach

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We have learned simultaneously both of a group called the highpointers and also of a new high point in their institutional existence. The highpointers are folks who aspire to climb the highest point in each of the 50 states, and we learn now that one of the most inaccessible of the nation's statewide high points has now been scaled. And it's not where you might think it is. Roger Rowlett, the chairman of the Highpointers Club, joins us from New York.

Welcome to the program, Mr. Rowlett.

Mr. ROGER ROWLETT (Highpointers Club): Hello, Robert. Thank you very much.

SIEGEL: And I hope you will now fill us with adventure and tell us about scaling Jerimoth Hill and where it is.

Mr. ROWLETT: Jerimoth Hill is just right across the border--most people kind of give it directions from eastern Connecticut. It's basically kind of a bump; it's just up from a creek. People who climb Mt. McKinley, climb Mt. Everest--they've always had trouble getting to that high point mainly because it was on private property.

SIEGEL: In Rhode Island.

Mr. ROWLETT: In Rhode Island.

SIEGEL: And it is the highest point in Rhode Island?

Mr. ROWLETT: Yes, it is.

SIEGEL: And that would be how many thousands of feet?

Mr. ROWLETT: I believe it's about 800-some feet.

SIEGEL: Eight hundred-some feet.


SIEGEL: But you say the great obstacle to climbing Jerimoth Hill was that for a long time, immovable obstacle--the landlord, property owner.

Mr. ROWLETT: The property owner who was there had people that were visiting him at--during all points of the day and night. And he didn't like people coming across his private property, even though it was, you know, something that people wanted to do, and there was a sign right there on the highway saying, you know, this is the highest point. So he'd blocked access to it. But he'd also--through the Highpointers Club, we managed to--we'd negotiated with him and he allowed access on certain days.

SIEGEL: But now there's entirely new ownership.

Mr. ROWLETT: The Mosleys, who bought the high point, have decided to open it up and let people visit every weekend during daylight hours.

SIEGEL: Well, but by the standards of Denali, 20,000 feet...

Mr. ROWLETT: Yes, sir.

SIEGEL: ...Jerimoth Hill at 800 feet is not exactly climbing, is it?

Mr. ROWLETT: It's basically a walk in the woods. It's a very pretty walk; it's on a nice pine-laden trail.

SIEGEL: And you're not in the least bit interested in manmade elevations, high points.

Mr. ROWLETT: No. For instance, Indiana--I think there's a--the dump in Indiana is now approaching--is probably higher than Indiana's highest point.

SIEGEL: The dump?

Mr. ROWLETT: Yes. A landfill there. They've been talking about that in Rhode Island, but that's not the case also.

SIEGEL: So it's in trouble if that garbage dump keeps on growing, I guess.

Mr. ROWLETT: Yeah. Right now, I mean, we don't--I mean, for instance, we don't recognize tall buildings. Like, in Florida, for instance, their high point is about 300 feet in the Panhandle, but we don't recognize, like, towers in Miami Beach or something like that as being the high point for the state.

SIEGEL: How many of you highpointers are there?

Mr. ROWLETT: Our club of dues-paying members--we have about 2,000 members.

SIEGEL: Really?

Mr. ROWLETT: Yeah.

SIEGEL: And this is a regular vacation activity--get out of work and go find a high point to climb?

Mr. ROWLETT: Oh, yes. People--they get obsessed with it, and after they've done the 50 points, they start looking. They want to do county high points, they want to do low points. In the process of doing this, you get to see the country, and you go to places you never would possibly dream of going. And you have to have a skill set in order to go there. Like it's one skill set if you climb Mt. McKinley, but you need a different skill set--and it's definitely a skill set--if you're going to go across private property where...

SIEGEL: Yes, I'll say to get up Jerimoth Hill in Rhode Island before you had permission.

Mr. ROWLETT: Right. Right. Yes.

SIEGEL: Took an entirely different set of skills.

Mr. ROWLETT: Right.

SIEGEL: Mr. Rowlett, thanks a lot for talking with us.

Mr. ROWLETT: OK. Thank you, Robert.

SIEGEL: That's Roger Rowlett in New York City. He is the chairman of the Highpointers Club, folks who try to visit the highest point in each of the 50 states.

(Soundbite of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough")

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