Pikes Peak Prehistory

Starting off with Pikes Peak prehistory, we see the volcanic eruption millions of years ago that formed the Rocky Mountain range from Canada to Mexico.

Lava, noxious gas and great boulders were thrown about like pebbles as the earth cracked and pushed the great mountain range toward the sky.

Nothing could live in this environment.  Eventually, meaning millions of years later, the earth cooled, rains came and made oceans, lakes and streams, and life emerged in all forms.

The human race developed in Asia and migrated to other parts of the world.

North America, uninhabited, was traversed by indigenous people from Asia who decided to stay and were the first founders of our country.

All of North America was bountiful, but since we are talking about Colorado and Pikes Peak prehistory, we will look at what went on here.

These first settlers were the Indians, who came over the land bridge of the Bering Strait from now Russia to Alaska and down into the U.S.

They climbed Pikes Peak, hunted and lived there.  They also worshiped the Peak, having ceremonies atop the pinnacle and leaving offerings to the great mountain.

For thousands of years the Indians lived here in their own world without interference by outside sources.

Suddenly, in the early 17th century, Europe started looking into the land that was the Colorado territory.

The Spaniards, coming in from Mexico, were very interested in this land. They called it the new world.

An explorer named de Vaca, was exploring around what is now the Texas coast and had been told of seven cities of gold by the Native Americans he came in contact with.

Many tried to find these lost cities, but none were found.  FYI: The name Colorado means "red" in Spanish.

In 1776, the Dominguez-Escalante expedition took off to find a route over land from New Mexico to California.

They set out and traversed into Colorado. The group soon found that the country was very difficult to travel to the west and soon gave up.

This expedition peaked the curiosity of the new Americans who had been wondering what was west of the Mississippi River.

Writer of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, had heard from French fur trappers of the bounty of pelts and furs that would be traded with the Native Americans.

He was also interested in the plants and animals of the region, that he had been told were different from the eastern variety.

This new territory peeked his curiosity so much, that he kept dwelling on it for years.

When Jefferson became President, he instrumented the Louisiana Purchase, which included the western territories.  He sent Lewis and Clark on a trip to map a route to the Pacific Northwest.

All of this leads up to the first American to set eyes on Pikes Peak.

In 1806, Jefferson decided to send Zebulon Pike out west to discover the source of the Mississippi.  That is how he discovered Pikes Peak, the mountain named for him.

You can read about his story in the section about Zebulon Pike.

Later on, because of the war of 1812, President Jefferson did not follow up on Pike's discoveries.

However, in 1820, after the war, Jefferson started sending expeditions into the "new west" and the history of Pikes Peak and Colorado were chronicled.

Pikes Peak prehistory actually shows the interest in the entire state and surrounding areas and why they were discovered a very long time ago.

Now we'll begin looking into the colorful and exciting centuries of Pikes Peak and old west Colorado.

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