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Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Colorado History

- Colorado History -
Americans from the East 1800 - 1820

The Expedition of Zebulon Pike

To quote Chevy Chase from the movie Vacation:
"We're hopelessly lost but making great time."

This sums up the travels of Lieutenant Zebulon Pike.

Zebulon Pike
Zebulon Pike reached the rank of Brigadier General before being killed in the War of 1812.

The Expedition of Zebulon Montgomery Pike
Following the Lewis Clark Expedition, a second expedition was sent to map the southern part of the Louisiana Purchase. Pike was to lead this expedition and was sent by General Wilkinson who had served in the Revolution. At the time, Wilkinson was the highest-ranking officer in the US army.

WilkinsonPike's keel boat
Left: General James Wilkinson. Right: Sketch of the sail-equipped keel boat
that took Pike and his men on the first leg of their journey up the Mississippi.

It is said that Wilkinson was a paid Spanish spy. But he didn't keep records, so there would be no evidence against him. It looks like Wilkinson was trying to set off a war with Spain. He was in partnership with former Vice President Burr, trying to start a new country.

Aaron Burr
Aaron Burr
Aaron Burr
graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) at age 16. He served in the Army during the Revolution and later in the US Senate. In 1800 he tied in electoral votes for the presidency with Thomas Jefferson. The decision reverted to the House of Representatives. On the 36th ballot, they named Jefferson president and Burr vice president. In 1804, Alexander Hamilton published insulting remarks about Burr when Aaron was seeking the governorship of New York. Their fateful duel followed. Then, Burr began to plot with Wilkinson.

Wilkinson gave Pike official and secret orders. There was no evidence to implicate Pike in any involvement as a spy.

Pike had 18 enlisted men, Wilkinson, an interpreter, and Dr. Robinson the "mystery man." This was the first official US presence in Colorado. Pike's orders were to explore the Red and Arkansas Rivers. If he saw Spanish troops, he was to prevent conflict. His first assignment was to take some Osage Indians home. Pike made treaties with Indians along the way and put up the US flag.

Pikes Peak
Some of the men returned east to return treaties. Pike stopped in Pueblo, Fountain Creek, and the Arkansas River. He and a few men tried to climb a blue hill because they could map a lot of territory from the top. "I'll be back in a few hours." Six days later he returned. And, they never made it to the top. Later, this blue hill will be named "Pikes Peak."

Old Sketch of Pikes Peak
An early sketch of Pikes Peak. It was scaled by three other explorers just 14 years
after Pike said it couldn't be done.

Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak was usually the first landmark seen by the new settlers as they made their way across the praire.

Are We There Yet?
Pike and his men got to the Royal Gorge, but couldn't map it any further. He found the Red River, then realized he was going in circles for five days. Pike then takes them into the San De Cristo in the dead of winter. He gets lost again. The men start losing toes to frost bite. Pike told them, "Stay here. I'll be back." Two weeks later, Pike returned and said, "I found the Red River." But, it was the Rio Grande.

Pike was then in search of the Red River. He spent the next two months lost. Pike built a fort deep into Spanish territory and flew the US flag.

Pike's Stockade
Reconstruction of the original Pike's Stockade (erected in 1807) in the San Luis Valley.
Pike's Stockade
Monument commemorating the location of the original Pike's Stockade.

The Spanish Cavalry
The Spanish cavalry questioned Pike and found out that he didn't know where he was. The Spanish rescued the troops Pike had left in the mountains.

Route of Zebulon Pike
The expedition of Zebulon Pike in pink-red.
(Top right, horizontal center, loop, vertical left, horizonal across the bottom.)
Click the map for an enlargement and more detail.

The Spanish took Pike and the rescued men to Santa Fe, then down to Chiua City. The Viceroy let them go because he didn't want to start a war.

Zebulon Pike arrives in Santa Fe
This is how artisit Frederic Remington imagined Pike's arrival in Santa Fe in 1807
escorted by the Spanish soldiers.

Communications were slow. Finally, they were taken home and released. Pike gets a tour of the South West from the Spanish on the way. He sneaks home maps and guns. Zebulon Pike died in 1812.

Adams Onis Treaty - 1819
By this time, the Spanish were very weak. Spain gave up Oregon and Florida. The treaty established Spain's boundary of LouRed River up the Arkansas River to the 42nd parallel. This boundary split Colorado.

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- Colorado History In Depth -
Lecture Notes, Reading, and Information:

| The Cheyenne Migration to Colorado |
| The Gratlan Affair, Massacre, Fort Laramie Treaty |

The Cheyenne Social Club
| A Cheyenne War Story: Wolf Road, the Runner |
| Cheyenne Traditions and Beliefs, Sacred Stories |
| Horses, Warriors, War Pipe, Sweatlodge Ceremony |
| Cheyenne War Parties and Battle Tactics |
| The Scalp Dance and Other Cheyenne Dances |

Fort Union
| The Sante Fe Trail and Fort Union |
| Sumner - Ninth Military Department / The First Fort Union |
| Early Arrivals to Fort Union, Daily Life at Fort Union |
| Captain Grover - The New Fort Union, the Confederate Threat |
| Fort Union Arsenal, William Shoemaker, End of Fort Union |

Americans from the East
| Thomas Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase |
| The Expedition of Zebulon Pike |
| Pikes Peak or Bust / Colorado Gold Rush |

Colorado's Role in the US Civil War
| The Civil War, Fort Wise / Fort Lyon |
| Mace's Hole, Colonel Canby, F.C.V.R. | Fort Weld |
| The Pet Lambs, John Chivington |
| General Henry Sibly, Battle of Valverde, Fort Union |

Cripple Creek District Labor Strikes
| The Western Federation of Miners / State Militia |
| The 1893 - 1894 Strike | The Strike of 1903 - 1904 |
| The Mine Owners Association |
| Crimes and Military Rule in the Cripple Creek District |
| Marshall Law in Cripple Creek District / End of the Strike |
Early Cripple Creek District
| Photos, Fire, and Life in Cripple Creek |
| Other Colorful Towns in the Cripple Creek District:
Gillett - Colorado's Only Bullfight, Victor, Independence
| A Guide to the Miners' Gritty Lingo |

More Colorado History Information
| Bent's Fort Photos, Personalities, Plans, and More |

| What Was Easter Like at Bent's Fort? |
| Colorado Trivia, Miscellaneous Old Photos,
Western Personalities, Forts, and More

| Lullabies for Jittery Cows - Cowboy Ballads |
| Heraldry of the Branding Iron |
| Project Aims to Clear Infamous Cannibal, Alferd Packer |
Lead Gives Alferd Packer's Story More Weight |
| Legendary Colorado Love Stories: Baby Doe Tabor & More |
| Colorado Pioneer Women: Elizabeth Byers |
| Early Denver Jokes / The History of April Fools' Day |

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Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000

Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
| Colorado History | American Government | Advanced Placement Modern European History | Rise of Nation State England | World History |
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