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The stage route from Pagosa to Amargo

We’ve been writing about the stage line that connected Pagosa Springs with Amargo from about 1881 until 1900, when the Denver & Rio Grande train reached Pagosa Springs ended the town’s need for a stage coach line.

We’ve described the stage route from Pagosa Springs south to the near where the Little Blanco and Blanco join.

There was a location there I’m not exactly certain of, but I suspect it was near a log house owned by the Bogart family and located maybe 200 yards from U.S. 84. For various short periods of time, that log house served as a stage stop, and even as a post office. I’m not certain which side of the Blanco the stage followed when it left that point on its way to Halfway Canyon.

The route through Halfway Canyon seems pretty obvious, probably being the same as that of U.S. 84 today. There is a good possibility the southern end of the route leaving Halfway Canyon might have followed a slightly different route.

The location of the Halfway House shown in last week’s picture probably is paved over by U.S. 84. It was located where the Valle Seco Road joins U.S. 84. The old stage route might have turned up Valle Seco Road and circled to the west around the little hill there before crossing the next row of hills into Coyote Park.

Again, I’m not certain of the exact route across Coyote Park, but suspect it was fairly near Coyote Creek, a route also followed by the railroad. In any case, the stage coach entered Edith and crossed the Navajo River. I suspect it left the Navajo and continued south on about the same route as the road follows today.

Where today’s route reached a bend going up a hill on its way to Lumberton, the original stage route continued straight south and terminated at the Denver & Rio Grande station in Amargo. After Amargo was abandoned, beginning about 1895, the southern connection with the railroad moved west a couple of miles to Lumberton.

The route was rough with the challenge of a lot of unbridged arroyos to cross, difficult if not impossible during rainy weather. Several different drivers yelled and whipped their way up and down the stage line during its approximately 20-year life. Onetime Archuleta County school superintendent Fil Byrne was one of these. Fil married Annie Kern and after their honeymoon, the couple lived at the Halfway House for some time.

The first volume of Pagosa Springs’s first permanent newspaper published in 1891 carried the following display advertisement; “Southwestern Mail and Transportation Company, R.G. Bates, Manager. Runs a daily stage between Pagosa Springs and Amargo, making close connections with eastern and western trains at Amargo. Comfortable coaches and fast teams. Prompt attention given to all express matter. L.J. McConvill, local agent.”

Of course, one of the plums helping pay for the route was a contract to carry the U.S. mail.