Name History (Humboldt Peak)
Title: Naming of Humboldt Peak
Entered by: 14erFred
Added: 05/14/2010, Last Updated: 05/14/2010
Sources: Borneman, W.R., & Lampert, L.J. (1978). A climbing guide to Colorado's Fourteeners. Boulder, CO: Pruett Publishing Company. Hart, J.L.J. (1977). Fourteen thousand feet: A history of the naming and early ascents of the high Colorado peaks (Second Edition). Denver, CO: The Colorado Mountain Club. Wolle, M.S. (1974). Stampede to timberline: The ghost town and mining camps of Colorado. Chicago: Swallow Books.
The mountain was named by German immigrants in honor of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), eminent German geographer, explorer, and mountaineer. In February 1870, Carl Wulsten, a Prussian immigrant and former Civil War general, led a band of German immigrants from Chicago, IL, to the Wet Mountain Valley (east of Humboldt Peak), where they established the first cooperative community in Colorado. (Wulsten's grave lies in the tiny town of Rosita, east of Humboldt Peak.) The immigrants named their town Colfax, in honor of Schuyler Colfax (1823-1885), 18th vice-president of the United States from 1869 to 1873 under Ulysses S. Grant.
However, numerous problems plagued the settlers, including poor leadership, inclement weather, and the destruction of their general store, demolished when a barrel of gunpowder exploded leaving them without provisions. By the spring of 1870, the immigrants were disenchanted, and they decided to disband and settle the land on their own. Then, in 1874, Leonard Frederick discovered a vein of silver on the west slope of the Wet Mountain Valley. He constructed a mine to excavate the ore, and for many years the immigrants of the valley worked there for a sizeable profit. Frederick called his mine the Humboldt, and the immigrants of the valley gave the mountain above the mine the same name.