Pike’s last good day
Rock Ledge enacts, explains events 200 years ago
Visitors to the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site Nov. 18 experienced a multi-sensory recreation of Army Lt. Zebulon Pike's last “good” encampment during his
expedition to the West 200 years ago.
This included tented camps representing those of both Pike and the area's indigenous Indians (including individuals dressed as they would have looked), musicians playing music from that era, demonstrations of a flintlock rifle, researched presentations on Pike and those times, tanned buffalo hides and fresh buffalo heads from the Westside's G&C Packing slaughterhouse.
“We did it right out of Pike's journal on Nov. 18,” explained ranch manager Andy Morris. “That explains the buffalo involvement. His men had shot 17 buffalo that day. So they were sitting pretty and the weather was nice. It was the last of when things went well for him. After that, things got ugly, and he suffered a lot.”
November 1806 also was when Pike first saw the peak that he would unsuccessfully attempt to scale and which would later bear his name. “His goal was simple: To climb to the top of this 'Grand Peak' to overlook the lands to the north, south, east and west in order to see the geography of the vast landscape he was exploring,” states a pamphlet about Pike that Rock Ledge gave to visitors. “Only then would he be able to ascertain the source of the rivers he was assigned to locate.”
Pike has been de-scribed variously as a spy or a failure, but Morris said he believes he was a “duty-bound” soldier determined to carry out his mission despite being outfitted poorly (in comparison with the nearly simultaneous, more celebrated Lewis & Clark expedition).
Morris estimated that about 350 people attended Rock Ledge's four-hour event. It was Rock Ledge's second reenactment this year commemorating the Pike expedition. The first was in January.
Westside Pioneer article