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Will Price’s memories of the early days

We’ve been writing about the first settlements in Pagosa Country, settlements started by trail-breaking pioneers circa 1876-1880, about the same time Pagosa Springs was founded.

We mentioned last week that Barzillai Price with some of his relatives may have been the first settlers along the Navajo River upstream from the post office we know today as Chromo. Only in the first years of Anglo settlement, that post office was known as Price, and it was located about a mile upstream from the present post office.

When he came to Pagosa Springs, Price had a young son named C. W. “Will” Price. The Prices arrived in Pagosa Springs in 1879. The elder Price drove a load of freight from Alamosa to the Ignacio Indian Agency, apparently leaving 17-year-old son Will in Pagosa Springs.

In his later years, Will wrote a number of articles about the early history of Pagosa Springs including the following.: “In July 1879 we were camped in Post Lewis, on the San Juan River above the Cade Hotel at the east end of the street going to the bridge. (San Juan Street east of the river — Motter). There were buildings on both sides, C.D. Scase’s sign was on the north side near the west end, where Major Peabody’s (whose brother later became governor of Colorado — Motter) store was and H.R. Bowling’s sign was shown.

“Another sign on the south side faced east, where I witnessed a tough fight between a drunken private and a sergeant. Other saloons were on the south side of this street.

“My father was gone to Alamosa for a load of freight, and I passed my time at the parade ground (The Fort Lewis parade ground was located in the center of today’s main downtown Pagosa Springs business block, now known as Block 21 — Motter) watching the soldiers at target practice. Many were good shots and there must be quite a lead deposit somewhere in back of Colton’s old log cabin.

“I got acquainted with a doctor there, (the Fort Lewis doctor’s name was Martin. He was a veteran of much service, fighting Indians in New Mexico — Motter) who was a great fisherman and who told me the names of the peaks north of town as follows: the one farthest west is Pagosa, the round topped one is Boulder, and the third one was Moody.

“Many freight teams did not come through town. They forded the river at Louck’s Place (about a mile south of the Great Pagosa Hot Spring was the first bridge across the San Juan River in the town area. The bridge was said to have been built by the same Baker who found gold at what became known as Baker’s Park, but is known today as Silverton — Motter) The bridge a short distance above his house had been burned.”

More next week from the pen of C.W. Price, whose homestead on the Navajo River still stands in the possession of Jim Bramwell.