This Week in Colorado History

Colorado Mountain Club is Founded

Today the mountains of Colorado are continuously flooded with people flocking to enjoy the bountiful trails. But imagine what it was like for the mountaineers at the turn of the century. Bulky wool clothing, heavy equipment and blisters all were part of the journey. These mountaineers were true adventurers who created what became the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC).

A group of men and woman pose beside a steep cliff near the summit of Longs Peak.

CMC members pose near the summit of Longs Peak in 1914. From the George Harvey, Jr. photograph albums (Ph.00094)

George Harvey, Jr.

April 26 marks the anniversary of the founding of the CMC in 1912. As one of Colorado’s oldest organizations, the CMC focuses on conservation, advocacy, youth and adult education, and outdoor recreation adventures. From 25 charter members united in their love of the mountains, the Club rapidly grew to 200 members barely a year later, when the CMC became a nonprofit corporation. 

Charter members included Enos Mills, whose efforts were influential in establishing Rocky Mountain National Park; Roger Toll, who held the prestigious positions of superintendent at Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, and Mount Rainier National Parks; and Carl Blaurock, who along with William Ervin was the first to climb all of Colorado’s known 14,000-foot peaks.

A group of men and women pose in the Clear Creek Basin region. Most of them are sitting on the ground, but two women stand in the back with a club sign.

CMC members pose in the Clear Creek Basin region in 1915. From the George Harvey, Jr. photograph albums (Ph.00094)

George Harvey, Jr.

Now celebrating its centennial year, Rocky Mountain National Park is one of Colorado’s most beloved treasures. It was through the persistence of founding CMC members that the park’s first boundaries were established and legislation was drafted and presented to Congress resulting in the creation of the park in 1915.

Silhouette of several people standing on Longs Peak in the early morning.

CMC on the summit of Longs Peak at 4:30 am on August 21, 1913.

George Harvey, Jr.
This poster, circulated by the Colorado Mountain Club, urges people to refrain from pulling flowers up by their roots.

Poster, Colorado Mountain Club collection Mss.00144

Colorado is home to some of the most beautiful terrain in the nation, and its preservation wouldn’t have been possible without the passion of these outdoor pioneers who broke the ground on well-traveled trails for both Coloradans and its visitors alike.

In celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Rocky Mountain National Park, visit the History Colorado Center to see the new exhibit “We ❤ Rocky Mountain National Park” or visit the Mountaineering Museum

Check out our other blog post to learn more about the George Harvey, Jr. photographs featured in this post.