Have you heard of the Masonic Mountain in Colorado? We recently took a road trip to Colorado Springs for a much needed family vacation and I got the chance to see this particular mountain. Still not ringing a bell? Perhaps you have heard of Pikes Peak--I thought so. The term “Masonic Mountain” which you'll find referenced online, I personally think is a bit overzealous, but nevertheless there is quite the Masonic Connection. When I mention this to Masons unfamiliar with the story, their first thought always goes to, “...is it named after Albert Pike?” No, it is not. However, coincidentally enough, the man whom the mountain is named after is one General Zebulon Pike. It was originally named “El Captain” by the Spanish explorers and was later renamed to “Pike’s Peak” and finally, removing the apostrophe, the current “Pikes Peak” after one Zebulon Pike, the American explorer who documented the mountain after the documented the mountain during his exploration of the Louisiana Purchase territory. Even more interestingly, he was in fact distantly related to the legendary Albert Pike through a shared ancestor, James Pike.
Zebulon made a name for himself, though independent of his ancestral connection. He was a celebrated American general, brigadier, and explorer. Born January 5, 1779, Pike went on to lead an impressive military career although he would perish in action at the young age of only 34 years old. Zebulon and Albert Pike did have another point of commonality besides the status of General in the military and being distantly related. They both were Freemasons. Brother Zebulon Pike is said to have been a Master Mason belonging to lodge #3 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
So is that why Pikes Peak has been referenced as a “Masonic Mountain”? Because the explorer was a Mason and it shares a common surname, the same as Albert Pike? Well, perhaps partially, but there is actually something even more interesting that brings a solid connection to Freemasonry that lasts even to this day. Some are already aware that back in 1899 there was actually a Masonic time capsule placed at the summit of Pikes Peak. In 1899, there was a triangular time capsule made of copper inserted into a large boulder on the edge of the summit of Pikes Peak. For someone like myself who is not the biggest fan of heights it was a bit of a daunting task wondering my way over to it, but the historian in me would not allow me to leave without seeing it up close. For those that follow me on social media, I even did a live broadcast while standing next to the capsule. I figured if I happened to fall to my death in the midst, might as well document the event…
The capsule was originally placed there back in 1899 as a joint effort between the Cryptic Masonic of Colorado and Kansas. That was of course, a very pleasant surprise to discover, being a Kansas Mason. It is said that as many as 500 Masons arrived on a special train for the ceremony. That would have been a sight to see; 500 Masons carrying out a ceremony atop Pikes Peak! I can only imagine.
In 1999, on the 100th anniversary of that event, more than 200 Masons (still a mighty impressive number) from Colorado and Kansas once again took the Railway to the summit of Pikes Peak removing the capsule and its contents with the intention of replacing it with a new one for another 100-year term. Due to a misjudgment in size the replacement capsule did not fit correctly and on top of this, a theft occurred of those new items. What was left in their place-- a slew of anti-Masonic materials. September of that year it is reported that the issue was resolved and a new, proper fitting capsule was set into place with a crowd this time of 22 Masons. It is said the original capsule is displayed in a Kansas bank, however, I have not yet discovered where. If anyone reading this happens to know I would appreciate that information so I can pay it a visit in person.
So yes, this mountain does indeed have some Masonic roots so to speak. Some even into the depths of the hard, cold summit rock. Having the opportunity to visit this monument in person was pretty surreal to me. I imagined the original dedication crowd there so many years ago... If you ever have the opportunity to visit, make sure you act on it. I know the next time we are in the Colorado Springs area I will again pay a visit to the peak of "Masonic Mountain", and imagine again, the labors of my Brothers.
RWB, Alex G. Powers is a historian and esoteric enthusiast. As a fifth-generation Freemason, he carries a hearty interest in antiquities of the Masonic institution. He currently serves as the Director of the Kansas Lodge of Research as well as District Deputy Grand Master for Area 9A in Kansas, he is also a Past Master and currently serving as Tyler and Lodge Historian for Gardner Lodge No. 65. Brother Powers is the host and founder of Historical Light, an independent production focusing on the history of Freemasonry. He is also the author of “A History of Gardner Masonic Lodge No. 65” with additional projects in the works.