Zebulon Montgomery Pike’s Southwest Expedition in 1806 and 1807 covered over 3660 miles from the mouth of the Missouri River north of St. Louis [Fort Belle Fontaine July 15, 1806] to Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana [Fort Clybourn July 1, 1807.]
The Pike party traveled 430 miles through Missouri, 11.7% of their mileage from Fort Belle Fontaine, and spent 51 + days, of 353, in Missouri, or 14.6% of their days.
Remarkable events occurred for the Pike party in Missouri including joyed reunions of families. Pike’s first mission was to return 51 Potawatomie – captured Osage Indians to the Grand and Little Osage villages in SW Missouri. He explored portions of southwest Missouri in the A. Busch Jr. Wetlands at Four Rivers. They established Camp Independence just east of the Little Osage village near Nevada and Butler, MO. With Osage guides, he traveled to establish peace between the Republican Pawnee, Kansa and Osage.
The Pike party explored 648 miles of Kansas, 18% of their mileage, and spent 56 days, of 353, in Kansas, or 16% of their days.
Remarkable events occurred for the Pike party in Kansas. Aside from being sought by a large Spanish battalion, they explored large parts of Kansas including all of the Arkansas River, were the first to establish American control on the Great Plains, and established a peace between the Pawnee, Kansa and Osage, while being guided by Osage and Pawnee.
On leaving the Pawnee village they were challenged by the Pawnee not to continue because of promises made by the Republican Pawnee to the Spanish. Pike stood his ground and continued.
Some call Pike “The Father of the Santa Fe Trail” because of his published information regarding price and quality of goods in Santa Fe.
The Pike party explored the Red Cloud/ Guide Rock area of Nebraska, and spent 13 days, of 353, in Nebraska.
Remarkable events occurred for the Pike party in Nebraska. Aside from being sought by a large Spanish battalion, Pike was the first to insist on American control on the Great Plains, established a peace between the Pawnee, Kansa and Osage, while being challenged while departing by the Republican Pawnee.
Colorado: The Heart of the Southwest Expedition
The Pike party explored 670 miles of Colorado, more than any other state or Mexican province, and spent 108 days, of 353, in Colorado.
In each county of Colorado, remarkable events occurred for the Pike party from
sighting a ‘small blue cloud’ —>, to
- being challenged by a Grand Pawnee war party east of today’s Pueblo
- 3. attempting to climb of the peak which bears his name, to
- building a stockade in Cañon City, their center point in Colorado before entering ‘Spanish Territory’ —>
<— 5. Pike climbed High Dune at today’s Great Sand Dunes National Park,
- discovered the headwaters of the Arkansas while viewing Colorado’s 14,000 foot Mt. Elbert and Massive mountains —> and South Platte Rivers,
- <— spotted Colorado’s mammal- the big horn sheep in Cotopaxi, and
- spent Christmas near 14,000 foot mountains in Salida —>,
<— 9. Pike climbed up 955′ out of the Royal Gorge.
- They suffered extremely beside the Sangre de Christo Range for 13 days in the Wet Mtn. Valley—>, and
<— 11. built a winter stockade where they were “arrested” by the Spanish, to
<— Pike viewed the Colorado 14,000 foot Collegiate Range.
The Pike party was escorted by the Spanish 417 miles in New Mexico along the Rio Grande, 11.4% of their mileage, and spent 21 days, of 353, in New Mexico, or 5.9% of their days. They were led on the Old Spanish Trail and El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro along the Rio Grande.
Remarkable events occurred for the Pike party in New Mexico, Mexico and Texas. Although “captives” of the Spanish, fandangos were thrown for them, some were housed in the residence of cartographers, and they were able to collect information and political/military impressions. They were well treated in New Spain.
Pike became good friends with his escort the Spanish lieutenant Facundo Melgares, later a governor of New Spain.
Lt. Facundo Melgares also was the commander of the large force  sent to attempt to intercept Lewis and Clark as well as Pike at the Pawnee village on the Kansas/Nebraska border. (Pike and his men were ‘arrested’ after they crossed the Sangre de Christo Mountains 18 miles into the New Spain while Facundo Melgares was 700 miles from his New Spain base. And yet Pike was deemed by the Spanish to be the bad guy in Chihuahua.)
The Pike party was escorted by the Spanish 466 miles in Chihuahua Province Mexico, 12.7% of their milage, and spent 48 days, of 353, in Chihuahua Province, or 13.6% of their days. They were led on, what would become today, the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro.
Although “captives” of the Spanish, Pike and his men were able to collect information and political/military impressions including various maps. He learned about Mexico’s discontentment with Spanish rule and Commandant/governor General Salcedo. This information was used in the 1846 Spanish American War. Pike provided helpful information used in the 1821 Mexican Revolution.
While in Chihuahua, the capital of Chihuahua province, Pike was treated well and invited to formal social dinners.
He challenged Commandant General Salcedo regarding being arrested only 18 miles into Spanish territory while the Spanish garrison moved 700 miles into American territory.
The Pike party was escorted by the Spanish 92 miles in Durango Province, and spent 6 days, of 353, in Durango Province. They were led on the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, turning east just north of Torreón.
The Pike party was escorted by the Spanish 409 miles in Coahuila Province, 11.2% of their mileage, and spent 19 days, of 353, in Coahuila. They were led on an old Spanish trail to Monoclova and on to San Antonio on the El Camino Real de los Tejas.
The Pike party was escorted by the Spanish 477 miles through Texas, 13% of their milage, and spent 27 days, of 353, in Texas, or 7.6% of their days. They were led on the El Camino Real de los Tejas.
They collected information and political/military impressions useful in Tejas after 1807 at the Alamo. He was the first official American military officer in Texas.
The Pike party was “released” by the Spanish at the Sabine River, traveled through Sabine Parish, then the neutral area, arriving in Natchitoches on July 1, 1807. Home at last. He remained in Natchitoches for a period of time.