Jan. 24, 2006 Deborah Espinosa
719/583.0453, ext. 104


Was Zebulon Pike just an explorer… or a government spy? You decide.

Explorer or Spy?: The Pike Legacy exhibit opens Feb. 4 at
El Pueblo History Museum to commemorate the bicentennial of
Zebulon Pike’s 1806 expedition through Colorado

Pueblo, Colo.— Two hundred years ago, Lieutenant Zebulon Montgomery Pike led an expedition through parts of the Louisiana Purchase, including present-day Colorado. But the ultimate purpose of his voyage excites speculation among historians even today. There are some that believe that he was a spy, sent on a military reconnaissance mission into Spanish territory.
El Pueblo History Museum, a property of the Colorado Historical Society, is examining this yet unsolved question in a new exhibit, Explorer or Spy?: The Pike Legacy, which opens Feb. 4.
Pike camped on the Arkansas River near present-day Pueblo in November 1806, a time when the river separated New Spain. The exhibit explores both American and Spanish views of his famous expedition and his illegal entry into New Spain’s northern borderlands, leading visitors through a body of evidence—historic documents, artifacts, the expedition’s timeline, and new information from archives in Washington D.C. and Spain—that allows each person to come to their own conclusion of whether or not Pike was a secret agent. Visitors also learn how the expedition affected the region’s people, economy and borders.

“Pike’s adventures were not only dramatic but an important part of Colorado history,” said Deborah Espinosa, director of El Pueblo History Museum. “However, the very reasons Pike undertook the expedition is still debated and there are a number of theories. Explorer or Spy?: The Pike Legacy exhibit will help visitors understand the possible motives of this venerable figure, as well as the possible broader implications of his explorations while he was here.”
El Pueblo History Museum serves as the gateway to the city of Pueblo’s Historic Arkansas Riverwalk & Historic District and serves as an educational gathering place focused on the area’s diverse history and vibrant present.

What: Explorer or Spy?: The Pike Legacy, a new exhibit that questions whether or not Zebulon Pike was sent on his expedition with secret orders to investigate Spanish territory.
Where: El Pueblo History Museum, located at 301 North Union, Pueblo, Colorado, 81003 (at the intersection of West First Street, Union and Grand Avenue (Exit 98B off I-25).
When: Saturday, February 4, 2006 – end of December 2006.
Cost: adults are $4; seniors, children 5-12 and students (with ID) are $3; children under 5 are free daily and children 12 and under and free on Saturdays. Come opening day and save $1 per admission!
Info: Call 719/583-0453 for more information or visit


The Colorado Historical Society, now more than 125 years old, was established in 1879 and is headquartered at the Colorado History Museum in Denver. The Colorado Historical Society is a statewide organization with 12 museums and historic sites across the state. As the designated steward of Colorado history, the Colorado Historical Society aspires to engage people in our State’s heritage through collecting, preserving, and discovering the past in order to educate and provide perspectives for the future. This educational institution also contains the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, as well as the Stephen H. Hart Research Library, and administers the State Historical Fund, a preservation-based grants program funded by limited stakes gaming tax revenues. For more information call (303) 866-3682 or visit