“The Brown Brothers and R. Vincent were arrested in Pagosa Springs lately, charged with changing the cattle brand of the Hoover Bros, who have missed cattle from the range for over a year. The case came up before Justice Gilliland, jury trial. Cattle were shaved to establish the fact that brands had been altered, of which there seems to have been no doubt; but the jury brought in a verdict of acquittal. Hoover Bros gave notice of appeal.” From the Del Norte Prospector Sept., 30, 1884.

Motter’s note. Pagosa Springs had no newspaper prior to 1890-91. Consequently, news had to be acquired from neighboring communities, such as Del Norte. The Hoover Bros. Ranch seems to have been just south of town along the San Juan River south of the old light plant. They operated a drug store in town and contributed heavily toward town improvements before moving away. There were several pioneering Browns, many of them also contributing to community development. Archuleta County was not separated from Conejos County in 1884 and was a pretty wild place.

At an early day in the history of southwestern Colorado, 80 acres of land, including the Pagosa hot springs, were located by Major Henry Foote, of Del Norte, with Valentine Scrip, which location was afterward contested by other parties under other locations, the land being finally awarded to Mr. Foote and his claim sustained by the General Land Office. Subsequently, the government of the United States made a reservation of 640 acres for military purposes, including the Foote location. After a time the government recognized Mr. Foote’s claim, which was 80 acres directly in the center of the reservation., Mr. Foote subsequently had his claim surveyed into lots.

“At the abandonment of Fort Lewis by the troops, the Government surveyed the strip surrounding the Foote claim, (including some 560 acres) into lots, and the same were offered for sale by the officers of the Durango land office March 10 at Pagosa Springs.

“Bidding is reported as having been quite spirited, lots selling as high as $50 each. From 400 to 500 lots were disposed of at good prices. Mr. W.S. Hickox, Receiver of the Durango land office, acted as auctioneer, and was a dazzling success.

“At present, it is estimated that upward of 200 people are living at Pagosa, and there is every reason to suppose that the bill establishing the new county (to be cut off from Conejos county) with Pagosa as the county seat, will pass the Legislature and become a law. The name of Archuleta has been suggested for the new county, but Pagosa being much prettier and more appropriate, will probably be retained.

“The immense hot springs at this place will eventually make it one of the great resorts in the West. The D. & R.G. railway runs within twenty-six miles of Pagosa Springs. We would not be surprised to see Pagosa become one of the liveliest little camps in the State, should the above-mentioned bill become a law.” From the Del Norte Prospector, Mar. 21, 1885


Photo courtesy John M. Motter
This undated photograph of these teams pulling freight over Elwood Pass between Summitville and Pagosa Springs was provided me by a descendant of James Strawn, one of the freighters. Strawn was a telegraph operator, early Pagosa resident, homesteaded on Turkey Creek, and served on the first Pagosa Springs town board. I have seen this or a similar photo identified as construction on Wolf Creek Pass, but I believe it is Elwood.