The gruesome character behind the name of Colorado’s Gore Range

Gore Lake near Vail. Photo Credit: Katie Botwin.

Many of Colorado’s natural features carry odd names that often play homage to an influential person of the past, but perhaps no Colorado naming is as ironic as that of the “Gore Range.”

Located in the Summit County area and beyond, the range is named after Lord St. George Gore, a wealthy irishman who led an infamous $500,000 hunting expedition across the American West during the 1850s, killing thousands of animals and leaving them to rot in his wake. During his expedition, Gore claimed to have killed more than 2,000 bison, 1,600 cervids, and 105 bears for mere sport over roughly three years. That’s more than 3 big game animals per day on average.

The numbers behind his hunting expedition are wild. He was said to be accompanied by at least 40 helping hands, utilizing wagons loaded with more than 70 rifles and a number of other weapons as he travelled the states of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and North and South Datoka. His slaughter of wildlife was so extreme that it prompted protest from government officials and citizens alike.

For the sake of estimating, assume that small bison yields 420 pounds of edible meat, a deer yields around 58 pounds of meat, and a bear can yield close to 100 pounds of meat. That’s close to one million pounds of meat wasted during his tour given the number of animals Gore killed, likely more if some bison were average size and the some of the cervids were the heavier elk species. Even if each of the men in Gore’s party ate a pound of meat a day, that only accounts for roughly 45,000 pounds of consumed meat.

Adding to the naming confusion, the Summit Daily reported in 2017 that while Gore did cross Gore Pass, evidence that he entered the Gore Range mountains is sparse. Convenience and chance, over much else, likely resulted in his namesake being affixed to the range.

Past attempts have been made at renaming the range, though they’ve fallen flat and the Gore name still stands.

Do you think this range should be renamed? Let us know in the comments.


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