This Happened 129 Years Ago Today on Colorado’s Pikes Peak
We aren't talking about peanuts (I'll explain later). We're talking about the creation of a beloved American masterpiece.
Colorado's Pikes Peak Has Been In The News Lately
A few short days ago a dude pushed a peanut to the top of Pikes Peak using some kind of spoon thingy strapped to his nose. As magnificent as that may sound, Pikes Peak has another major footnote in history.
On This Day Back In 1893
On July 22, 1893, a climb to the summit of Pikes Peak resulted in the creation of one of the United States' most beloved patriotic songs. On Saturday, July 22, 1893, a 33-year-old English professor visiting Colorado Springs embarked on a trip to the summit of Pikes Peak. From there, the words to a poem came to her. That poem would later be set to music by a church organist from New Jersey. Put it all together, and you have the song we all know as America the Beautiful.
A Trek Up Pikes Peak
The teacher responsible for the lyrics, Katharine Lee Bates, was a professor at Wellesley. She had traveled to Colorado Springs to teach a summer course. According to The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Bates and the other professors decided to "celebrate the close of the session by a merry expedition to the top of Pike’s Peak."
The group made their way to the summit via prarie wagon. When that option fizzled, they opted for another mode of transportation. Uncover Colorado quotes Bates as having said, “Near the top, we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy."
Writing the Poem
Bates wrote down the words to the poem upon returning to her hotel room at Antlers Hotel. The poem was first published two years later. It was first published in a weekly newspaper, The Congregationalist, on July 4, 1895. The poem was eventually set to music. The melody we know today was based on Samuel A. Ward's "Materna."
Today, you can hear America The Beautiful performed in almost any way imaginable.