Main Menu

You are here

History

Content

 

First Coloradans

First Coloradans

Long before Zebulon Pike "discovered" the peak that would be named for him, Colorado's Ute Indians followed trails along the front range and into the mountains during their seasonal hunting and gathering migrations. The Utes camped in the Garden of the Gods on their way to hunt buffalo on the plains. They watched for enemies from Pikes Peak slopes and searched the mountain for spirit rocks and vision quest sites. 
 
Lt. Zebulon Montgomery Pike

Lt. Zebulon Montgomery Pike - 1779 - 1813

Pike, born January 5, 1779 in Lamberton, New Jersey, began his army career at the age of fifteen. He was killed during the War of 1812 after a successful battle for York (now Toronto, Ontario), by a powder magazine explosion on April 27, 1813. He died on a ship returning to Sackets Harbor, New York where he was buried.

Pikes Peak or Bust

Pikes Peak or Bust

Fourteen years after Pike's attempted climb, Dr. Edwin S. James, a botanist on Major Stephen Long's Expedition, would claim the honor of being the first man in North America to ascend a mountain more than 14,000 feet high. On July 14, 1820, James reached the weathered summit of Pikes Peak after a strenuous two-day climb. James is also credited with collecting the first descriptions of alpine flora and the discovery of the blue columbine, Colorado's state flower.

At the Foot of the Mountain

At the Foot of the Mountain

Within sight of Pikes Peak, two other small settlements were growing on Cherry Creek near the first gold discovery. By the time Colorado Territory was carved from Kansas Territory in 1861, these two settlements had become Denver City. It wasn't until 1871 that General William Jackson Palmer would set up his surveying equipment on the summit of Pikes Peak and plot a town of the prairie. He named it Colorado Springs.

Homesteading and Road Building

Homesteading and Road Building

Some attempted homesteading on Pikes Peak where summer temperatures can fall below freezing at night and snow is not unusual in July. In days before air-conditioning a stream-side homestead in a valley of wildflowers and surrounded with beautiful views would be appealing but not an easy chore. Homesteaders were required to live on and improve their land as well as raise crops for five years.

Glen Cove Lodge

Glen Cove Lodge

Glen Cove Lodge, at an elevation of 11,425 feet on the Pikes Peak Highway, is listed on the State Register of Historic Properties. The Tweed family successfully homesteaded the shelter valley known as Glen Cove in the 1880s.

Pikes Peak Carriage Road

Pikes Peak Carriage Road

The first road to the summit of Pikes Peak was a carriage road opened in the fall of 1888 by the Cascade and Pikes Peak Toll Road Company. The fourteen foot wide gravel wagon road was advertised as " the highest in the world, and a great advance in the field of western transportation".