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Schools, newspapers come to Pagosa Country

One of the first acts sanctioned by the Archuleta County Commissioners was a school bond election for District Number One, Pagosa Springs.

Voters approved the bond and a two-story school building was erected at the corner of Third and Lewis streets.

The history and locations of schools in the area before that time is murky. Probably the first school building was located on the east side of Lightplant Road, perhaps one-half mile south of the Great Pagosa Hot Spring. Lieutenant McCauley’s map of Pagosa Springs and Fort Lewis drawn in 1878 shows a school building there. Fort records indicate an enlisted man was detailed to assist the school teacher. Fil Byrnes claimed to be the first teacher in 1878.

At some time the school moved to a two-room building behind the old Cooley Bldg. on Pagosa Street. From there it moved to the new school building on the corner of Third and Lewis. Meanwhile, Chromo and the surrounding area was designated as School District Number 2 and, in 1888, Edith was designated School District Number 3.

Daniel L. Egger arrived in Pagosa Springs in April of 1890 and printed on April 10 the first edition of Pagosa Springs’ first regular newspaper, The Pagosa Springs News. Frank Deatheridge had published a weekly called The Pagosa Springs Herald, the summer before. Egger noted that the former publisher was in Canon City, where he died a short while later.

In his first edition, Egger proclaimed, “Had it not been for the extended snow on the Cumbres Mountains The News would have made its appearance a month ago. We hope, however, that our efforts will be none the less appreciated because of the trials we had to undergo to get here with the plant.”

Egger immediately jumped foursquare into the middle of the local political pot, which he kept boiling over most of the next 20 years.

Businesses advertising in the first issue of The Pagosa Springs News were: Millinery Emporium. Mrs. S. J. Popham; Pagosa Springs Meat Market, Floyd Eastman, Proprietor; Pagosa Springs Bath House, M.A. Patrick, Manager. Professional advertisements appeared for Dr. W.M Parrish, Physician and Surgeon; T.F. McConvill, Attorney at Law; J. E. Colton, Money Lender; C.R. Dollarhide, Attorney at Law; Pagosa Springs and Amargo Mail Express, F.A. Byrne, Proprietor.

Pagosa Springs was coming of age.

New hope for economic prosperity wafted across Pagosa County. The railroad promised to come, this time to harvest the vast expanses of ponderosa pine, said to be the most extensive in Colorado.

Business houses moved tentatively across the river and located along San Juan Street where the courthouse now stands, and along Pagosa Street. The Strawn House, a hotel, was erected by J.C. Strawn on Pagosa Street next to the present School Administration Building.

A business district was taking shape on the west side of the San Juan River, a shape it retains to this day.

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