Cochetopa Pass

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Cochetopa Pass
East of Cochetopa Pass.jpg
Just East of Cochetopa Pass
Elevation10,032 ft (3,058 m)
Traversed byNN-14 Rd. / FR 750
LocationSaguache County, Colorado,  United States
RangeRocky Mountains
Coordinates38°09′47″N 106°36′01″W / 38.163007°N 106.600192°W / 38.163007; -106.600192
 
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Cochetopa Pass
East of Cochetopa Pass.jpg
Just East of Cochetopa Pass
Elevation10,032 ft (3,058 m)
Traversed byNN-14 Rd. / FR 750
LocationSaguache County, Colorado,  United States
RangeRocky Mountains
Coordinates38°09′47″N 106°36′01″W / 38.163007°N 106.600192°W / 38.163007; -106.600192

Cochetopa Pass is a mountain pass in Colorado. It lies between the city of Gunnison and the town of Saguache. It lies on the Continental Divide, which separates the Gunnison and Rio Grande National Forests. It is named after the Cochetopa Hills that it lies within, Cochetopa being the Ute Indian word for "pass of the buffalo"[1] The original pass is traversed by Saguache Count Road NN14, a maintained gravel road. The new Cochetopa Pass is more often called "North Pass," and is located nearby on Colorado State Highway 114, which is paved, and at a slightly higher elevation.

Contents

History

The area of the Cochetopa Hills was a hunting ground of the Ute Indians. The area of the pass would be explored by many men in search of a route over and through the Rocky Mountains. Many would end in disaster.

1848

In 1848, St. Louis business men in an effort to have the intercontinental railroad pass through St. Louis, financed an expedition to find a route over Cochetopa Pass. These men set out with John Charles Fremont leading them. The expedition crossed over the San Juan Mountains at Bill Williams Pass but soon after reaching Pool Table Mesa in mid December the men and mules began freezing to death. After one rescue party failed to reach help and began resorting to cannibalisim, Fremont with the help of the Ute Indians led the men out to Taos, New Mexico Fremont left the men behind in Taos and ran for California. It took until January to rescue the remaining expedition from the mountains. The expedition was a failure and took the lives of 10 men.[2]

1853

In the Fall of 1853 Captain John W. Gunnison explored and surveyed the area in search of a route for the intercontinental railroad.[3] Not long after exploring the area Captain Gunnison was killed by Indians and his second in command, Lt. Edward G Beckwith took over and decided that the best route for the railroad would be further North through Wyoming across the Great Divide Basin.

References

  1. ^ Cochetopa Pass Looking up Sahwatch [Saguache] Creek. Unknown Date. Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum. 29 Mar. 2008. http://cprr.org/Museum/USPRR-Wm_Husson-PANZOOM/07coo.htm
  2. ^ Railroad Surveys. Unknown Date. National Park Service. 29 Mar. 2008. http://www.nps.gov/archive/jeff/LewisClark2/Circa1804/WestwardExpansion/EarlyExplorers/Railroad.htm
  3. ^ Reports of explorations and surveys, to ascertain the most practicable and economical route for a railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean:. 1855. University of Michigan 29 Mar. 2008. http://name.umdl.umich.edu/AFK4383.0002.001