Western history Western Travel

Tourist Season

Pikes Peak Tourist
A Pikes Peak Tourist

With spring well underway in the Rocky Mountains, thoughts naturally turn to tourist destinations and new ways to enjoy them. Our current culture did not invent the concept of traveling for fun and education. Far from it. The West can look to western expansion to explain much of its history, good and bad. After the Civil War, young men scrambled to find their fame and fortune in the West. Pioneers and tourists came in many packages. They were immigrants from different countries, and men and women from all walks of life.

Pioneer view photographers provided exciting images of natural wonders and scenery to those back east. With the arrival and connection to transcontinental train lines in Colorado in 1870, tourists came to see for themselves the scenes they had witnessed only in photographs.

Pioneer view photographer, William E. Hook, was one of those photographers. In addition to the numerous scenic views he shot all over the West, he sold photographs to tourists by the hundreds and thousands. When they departed on burros up the Pikes Peak Trail, he took their photo, printed while they were gone, then sold them a souvenir photo when they returned. During the summer months, business was booming.  As Hook said, “You can only realize the height of Pikes Peak on looking down from the summit, and all appear to try the experiment.”

Joyce B. Lohse, 4/26/11
“Artist’s Glen: A Tale of Two Photographers”
June 11, Pikes Peak Library District History Symposium