Zebulon Pike – Part 2

In the conclusion of our series, Zebulon Pike sets off into the Louisiana Territory amid rumors of war with Spain. It will be a perilous journey that will almost cost lives of his entire party (although a few will lose some toes in the process).

Maps of Pike’s Journey West (source)

Pike’s route throughout the west. pikemap1

Pike’s route through the Rocky Mountains


I recommend going to zebulonpike.net to see all their detailed maps following Pike throughout his journey. The maps are fantastic.

Recommended Sources

Jared Orsi’s Citizen Explorer: The Life of Zebulon Pike was a comprehensive look at Pike, his world and his journeys. It was my favorite book on Pike – and highly recommend it if you want to know more about the man and his world.

Zebulon Pike, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the West is a nice collection of essays about – you guessed it – Pike, Jefferson and the opening of the American west. It doesn’t provide the detail regarding Pike as Orsi’s book, but it delves more into the other players and the American mindset.

The Expeditions of Zebulon Montgomery Pike (Vol. 1-3) are Pike’s own journals. In the late 1800, Elliott Coues provided a heavily annotated version of the journals – they are what I was able to read. As they are public domain documents, you can read them for free online.

Zebulonpike.net is a website set up detailing Pike’s western journey. It has a ton of information – including maps – a couple of which I have placed on this page.

Wikipedia has a good Pike page if you just want to read an overview of his life.

Vasco Núñez de Balboa – Part 2

balboa-pacificBalboa has established the colony of Santa Maria on the eastern shore in the province of Darien. But when the local natives tell him about the ‘other sea’ over the mountains – not to mention the kingdom where men drink from golden goblets and eat off plates of gold – the conquistador is ensnared.

Part 2 is the conclusion of our series on Balboa.

Reading Materials

Sadly, I could find no really comprehensive contemporary biographies about Balboa. Some earlier works from the 1800s and early 1900s are very romanticized – and very much a blend of fact and fiction.

When I found more contemporary looks at Balboa, the details were short and not that in-depth – often a part of a larger theme. But taking it all as a whole, it added up to some good reading – even if contradictions and inaccuracies are more the norm than the exception.

Still, here’s a list of some of the more interesting items I found:

Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire from Columbus to Magellan was a good read about the early colonial era, and contained a couple of chapters on Balboa (especially his rivalry with Pedrarias).

Frederick Ober’s Vasco Nunez de Balboa, written in 1906, is an entertaining biography of Balboa – even if it is quite hokey and romanticized. You can read it free.

The Lives of Vasco Nunez de Balboa and Francisco Pizarro is one of the earliest biographies of Balboa. The book is written by Manuel Jose Quintana in 1832 and is translated into English. You can read it for free.

Historic Panama Web Page by Bruce Ruiz – This website was created by a gentleman in the early 2000s named Bruce Ruiz. The man passed away in 2003, but his son keeps the page online. It has a ton of information on colonial Panama, although there is a lot of inaccurate information. It’s very entertaining.

Wikipedia has a good Balboa page. From there you can link to many of the other people in our tale.

Image of Balboa claiming the Pacific Ocean is from Wikipedia.