Pikes Peak photo by Christian Murdock

Pikes Peak wasn’t always Pikes Peak: Explore its other names

by Seth Boster, Features writer
Reposted from Gazette.com



The name is and will be the Pikes Peak Summit Complex.


But from the many interpretive displays that will be inside and outside the under-construction, state-of-the-art building — opening is anticipated later next month — visitors will learn of other summit names that fell through the cracks of time.


“It’s a way to let people know,” said Stuart Coppedge, representing local firm RTA Architects on the design team. “Pikes Peak has not just been Pikes Peak. Long before (Zebulon Montgomery Pike) was born, the Indigenous people had names for it. The Spanish had names for it.”


History Colorado’s chronicle starts with the Ute title of Tava, or “Sun Mountain,” for the morning light reflection on the high, granite face. Local Utes came to call themselves Tabeguache, meaning “People of the Sun Mountain.”


Historians maintain another Indigenous moniker from the Arapaho people: “Heey-otoyoo,” meaning “Long Mountain.” In last year’s book “Colorado’s Highest: the History of Naming the 14,000-Foot Peaks,” author Jeri Norgren includes also Ta-Wa-Ah-Gath, or “Grandfather Mountain.”


Later, Spaniards referred to the peak as Montaña del Sol. “In time, they gave it their own name,” reads the History Colorado article, “El Capitan, meaning ‘the Captain’ or ‘the Leader,’ emphasizing its nature as the most prominent peak of all the Front Range.”


But the region’s early Europeans would prevail with their christening.


For a while, some went with “Grand Peak,” as it was described in journals from Pike’s expedition that started in 1806. In “Colorado’s Highest,” Norgren points to a 1836 map as the landmark’s earliest, circulated reference to Pike.


“Pike’s Peak or bust,” went the popular phrase for the 1859 gold rush. The federal government adopted the name in 1890, dropping the apostrophe, as is custom of the Board of Geographic Names.