When, in late June of 1820, members of Stephen Long's exploring party awoke to another morning on the Great Plains, they noticed something different in the distance. It appeared to be a bluish cloud on the western horizon, but as the day took shape, the men made out the line of peaks that later came to be called the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. One peak stood out and was given Long's name.
Wrote the Long expedition's journalist, Captain John R. Bell: "We had a distant view of the summit of a range of mountains - which to our satisfaction and heart felt joy, was declared by the commanding officer to be the range of the Rocky Mountains."
Today Longs Peak beckons to many who travel by automobile across the Great Plains of Kansas, Nebraska, and eastern Colorado to Rocky Mountain National Park.
The contrast between the plains and mountains struck Bell much as it does people today: "The range had a beautiful and sublime appearance to us, after having been so long confined to the dull and uninteresting monotony of prairie country."
Despite Bell's failure to notice the many natural beauties of the Great Plains, his thoughts are still familiar to many weary travelers today.