COBWEB CORNERS: The many Pike’s Peaks
By Mel McFarland
One of my favorite subjects is the fine mountain. As a kid on West Colorado Avenue, I could see the smoke from the trains going up it. Did you know there are three other mountains with that name? Three towns as well. So, where are they?
I want to make one point first. Pike's Peak and Pikes Peak are both correct spelling. A hundred years ago the government took the apostrophe out of mountain names, but Colorado officially restored Pike's, back in the 1920s. There actually is a "Society for the Preservation of the Apostrophe," and I know one of the members!
The second highest Pike's Peak is in Pennsylvania, between Gettysburg and the Maryland state line. This mountain actually gets more snow than ours does. It supports one of the area's better ski areas. The third is at Pike's Peak State Park in Iowa, on the banks of the Mississippi up toward Minnesota. Before he came here, Pike was following Lewis and Clark when he spotted this hill. Pike climbed it, like he wanted to do with ours, so he could get a view of what was ahead.
The shortest is in Texas. As a kid, I was told Texas wanted to buy ours. On a cloudy day, if the mountain was not in view, there would be the comment, "Well, I guess Texas came and got it." The Texans seem to have gotten their own by renaming a hill near El Paso.
In Louisiana, there is a community near New Orleans called Pike's Peak. Pennsylvania has one too, near Altoona. In Indiana, there is a wide spot with that name, south of Indianapolis.
I like asking cog railway passengers from these states if they know about theirs. Years ago, a lady on the train was doubtful there could be one so close to her New Orleans home. I assured her it was there if she looked. I later received a nice note from her, after her return home. It survived Katrina, and it is still holding its own, even if it is NOT the highest spot in Louisiana.
Lt. Zebulon Pike was born in Lamberton, New Jersey, and died near Toronto, Canada in 1813 (killed in the war with the British). He was here in late November 1806. At the time the area was still part of Mexico. When Texas declared itself a nation, it just missed Pike's Peak!