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James Peak

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Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Traffic on Interstate 70 with the Continental Divide in the background on a hot summer day, July, 2023.
Edwin James’ mountain of accomplishment

Pikes Peak once bore the name of the first non-native to reach its summit, Edwin James, who called the landscape a “region of astonishing beauty.” James traveled west in 1820 with the first major expedition since Lewis and Clark. At 22, he was already an observant botanist, describing 500 plants previously unknown to Western science, including the Colorado columbine.

On that expedition James also cared for dogs and horses while others ignored them. He witnessed Native people driven from their lands and settlers indiscriminately killing bison. Years later, he criticized the greed of the fur trade, translated the New Testament into Ojibwe, and turned his Iowa farmhouse into a stop on the Underground Railroad. “Pikes Peak” is no longer named after Edwin James, but his name lives on in the scientific names of 24 plant species, a wilderness area spanning three Colorado counties and a thirteener on the Continental Divide, James Peak.

About Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards are snapshots of our colorful state in sound. They give brief insights into our people and places, our flora and fauna, and our past and present, from every corner of Colorado.