Today in History, November 15: 1806 –
US Army Lt. Zebulon Pike was a brilliant, self-taught explorer. On this date he was on his second expedition to the West, searching for the headwaters of the Arkansas and Red Rivers.
When he observed a mountain in the distance which he described as looking like a “small blue cloud”, he told the Expedition they could reach the mountain, scale it, and return to camp by dinner time.
Never having seen a “14er” before, he had grossly misjudged the distance. He and his team had to shelter from the cold in a cave for the night. When they did reach the base of the mountain which would one day hold Pike’s name, he declared it could not be climbed.
After the discovery Pike and his expedition became lost, wandering until captured by a troop of Spanish soldiers who took them to Santa Fe before releasing them. Pike took advantage of this misfortune by mapping this valuable area also.
Pike would be made a Brigadier General during the War of 1812 during which he would be killed.