Business and fun in the early days

Things were jumping in Pagosa Country in 1895.

The Biggs Lumber Company and the New Mexico Lumber Company were buying up timber as fast as they could in the southeastern part of the county. Soon one or both companies would erect mills and, just as important, a railroad would be built to haul trees to the mill and lumber to Front Range markets. It would be hard to overestimate the beauty of the standing Ponderosa forests, the magnet for an approaching logging/lumber boom.

The editor of the Walsenburg Cactus rode from Amargo to Pagosa Springs and described the still unlogged countryside this way: “The great forests of fine timber in this country were a revelation of the future wealth that waits the coming generation. For miles and miles the road led through and among towering trees and beautiful parks. There is little or no underbrush or fallen and dead timbers, and we venture the assertion that there is not a park in any city of this great country that can compare with the unfenced and uncared for parks of Archuleta County. Level as a floor and covered with a growth of heavy, succulent grass, it forms a picture of natural beauty and wildness that will live long. This land is all open for settlement. The grazing land is sufficient to accommodate scores of thousands of cattle, yet there are very few people or cattle in this section … For settlers seeking a home where water, timber, and grazing lands are abundant, and sufficient for all, we would advise them to look over this country.”

The Cactus editor was no slouch at promoting Pagosa Country. Neither was Daniel Egger, editor of the Pagosa Springs News since 1891.

Egger described the new Biggs mill at Edith on the Navajo River as “the most complete mill ever set up in this part of the country. It has a capacity of 60,000 feet per day. The mill is supplied with a dynamo and when artificial light is needed is lighted with electricity. The yard is most conveniently arranged and cars can run to any part of it to load lumber ...”

The new railroad to Edith carried freight bound for Pagosa Springs allowing a freighting team to make a round trip in two days “with ease.” A petition by the citizens of Edith secured a post office for that town and the mail for Pagosa Springs was delivered from that point.

In November, the people of Pagosa Springs engaged in one of their favorite past times, dancing, this time at Edith. Egger enthused, “The ball at Edith was the largest gathering of its kind it has been our pleasure to see for years. It is estimated that over three hundred people participated in the affair … The dance took place in the new store building, which is 25 by 80 feet … At one time there were 88 couples on the floor … Excellent music was furnished by Mayor Lewis, F.J. Brumley, Editor McCarthy (of Lumberton), and others.

Another dance was held in Pagosa Springs the next week to celebrate the results of the election. It was held in the Gross Hall, a 30 by 60 foot building erected by Gene Gross in 1895 on the east side of McCabe Creek and the north side of San Juan Street. The dance seemed to wash away the bitterness of another vituperous Archuleta County election. At midnight an excellent “lunch” was served by wives of the successful candidates. Dancing continued until after 2 a.m.