Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

Just recently I had to respond to a Facebook comment that compared Donald Trump to Barack Obama, this regarding Trump’s lack of familiarity with the truth:

And we should paint President Obama with the same brush? In this regard Obama is a piker compared to Trump. Actually, not even Nixon attained Trump’s rarefied air.

Obama a piker. Yes, a slacker. Then I wondered if anybody reading had an idea where we got the term “piker.” That’s this week’s Quiz Question. What’s the origin of the term?

Post your answer as a comment below. No fair running to  Google. You were supposed to know this stuff already.

Update and answer

People wanting to know how we got the term “piker” need to go all the back to an explorer named Zebulon Pike. Pike, later Brigadier General Pike, conducted two explorations of the American  West under the presidency of Thomas Jefferson. On his expedition he and his men discovered and attempted to climb what is now known as Pike’s Peak in Colorado. This was in November, and they were unsuccessful, leading Pike to proclaim that this obstacle would never be climbed. Today there are an automobile roadway and a cog rail line going to the top.

During the gold rush of 1849 many set out from the eastern states to  head for the California gold fields. Some had “California or Bust” painted on their wagons. As with such adventures, California was a mountain range and a desert too far, and some got to Pike’s Peak and gave up. Today these people are known as pikers, those who failed at their endeavors or did not live up to  their early promise.

In Missouri there is a Pike County, giving rise to the song:

Do you remember sweet Betsy from Pike,
Who crossed the high mountain with her lover Mike?

Followed by numerous additional stanzas.


One thought on “Quiz Question

  1. Pingback: Quiz Question | Skeptical Analysis

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