Once upon a fleeting time in 1806, a U.S. soldier was ordered to explore newly acquired land and establish peaceful relations with inhabitants along the way. His name was Zebulon Montgomery Pike. President Thomas Jefferson had purchased the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon Bonaparte of France. This was before satellites, railways, planes, or automobiles so exploration of the new American frontier was done on foot, canoe, and horseback. Imagine the bravery it would take to go on such an adventure! The President wished to know what sort of bargain he had made so Zebulon led a group of men on the expedition. They headed out carrying the flag of the United States along the way.
When the military explorer came to the eastern edge of the Southern Rocky Mountains today known as Colorado Springs, he attempted to climb a high mountain, 14,115 feet above sea level. He called it “Grand Peak” but it was later to be named after him, Pikes Peak.
The Ute, Cheyenne, Comanche, and Arapaho peoples were the first people living in the Pikes Peak Region. The Utes called the mountain Tava, which means Sun Mountain. Timber for teepee poles was sourced from Cheyenne Mountain, named after the Cheyenne people. Summers were spent in the mountains and in the Autumn the Indians would travel down Ute Pass, hunt buffalo, and soak in the hot springs.
Mr. Pike wrote a book about his travels that became very popular. Many immigrants traveled westward to settle the new land. Roads into the area were called trails. Stagecoaches were used for travel on the trails by fur trappers and explorers.
In 1859, the Pikes Peak Gold rush lured more people. The area was also being mined for coal. Coal was used as fuel for trains and in homes for heat. There were 50 coal mines! Old Colorado City was the name of the settlement built at the base of Pikes Peak to supply goods to gold camps and miners. It was located near Fountain and Camp creeks and was the capital of the Colorado Territory. What is the capital of Colorado now?
William Jackson Palmer went to the Colorado Territory as a surveyor in search of possible railroad routes. He founded Colorado Springs as a resort town which was named for springs found along Monument Creek.
Railroads brought tourists and visitors to the area. Garden of the Gods was a key attraction with its beautiful rocks tilted vertically into the landscape.
Today Colorado Springs is home to the U.S. Olympic Training Center, the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, and several military bases. Plan a trip and view historical artifacts at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum or visit the living history museum, Rock Ledge Ranch. See Western Art murals at the famous Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College by Colorado Artists such as Boardman Robinson and Frank Mechau, or the Broadmoor Hotel by Colorado Artists such as Ezra Tucker and Bill Nebeker. Go to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo or ride on the many bike trails.
Learn more about Colorado Springs on Wikipedia! Interesting Fact: Charles Schulz, who loved to draw and was the creator of the comic strip Peanuts, lived in Colorado Springs in the 1950’s.