Thursday, June 6, 2013

America The Beautiful

Pike’s Peak, CO   High 44  Low 22


I did not know that the view from atop Pikes Peak is what inspired the song America the Beautiful. I love learning these bits of my country’s history.

Original poem (1893) 

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!
O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife,
When once or twice, for man's avail,
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain,
The banner of the free!
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

Katherine_Lee_Bates In 1893, at the age of thirty-three, Katharine Lee Bates, an English professor at Wellesley College, had taken a train trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to teach a short summer school session at Colorado College.

The first draft of America the Beautiful was hastily jotted down after she returned from a trip to the top of Pikes Peak.  Later she remembered:

One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000 foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.

I cannot imagine taking a prairie wagon up that mountain. We had a paved road all the way to the top and that was bad enough. Thank you Ms. Bates.



  1. We take so much for granted when it comes to modern travel. I have never been to the top of Pike's Peak although I was close enough to it. I loved climbing mountains when I was in shape to do that, but I like smaller mountains.

  2. We may have changed some of the words of the song over the years but it is still a beautiful country.

  3. I really think that "America the Beautiful" should have been the national anthem. I'd never seen these stanzas before. Thanks, Sandie.

  4. WOW! I didn't know that bit of history...thanks for sharing.

  5. You're just a few weeks behind our travels. Did you take the drive to the top of Pike's Peak? A portion of the top was closed when we were there but we drove as far as we could and that was spectacular and it was snowing on top.

  6. Very interestig but I sure can remember it enough to see why it inspired her so...
    Have fun

  7. I'm learning so much from your travels. Where were you when I needed you on my fifth grade geography test? :cD

  8. Interesting story. The words seem a lot different from the ones I've heard folks singing at ballparks.

  9. I'm not sure I want want to take a car that high let alone a wagon train. All I can think of is those poor horses that had to pull those wagons uphill.

  10. Years ago when we drove up the peak, it was all gravel and mud above the tree line.... The snow was all red dirt where it was plowed off of the gravel.... Our car was a total mess when we got back to the springs.....

  11. I didn't know that... what fun. I've never seen the original lyrics... sure is hard to breathe when you first get up there. Beautiful.

  12. What a story! Thanks for sharing.


Thanks for visiting today. I look forward to reading your comments. Have a beautiful day.