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Sophistication, and the naming of Put Hill

A dab of civilization made its appearance in 1891 in Pagosa Springs.

An item in the May Pagosa Springs News of that year reported: “The town board passed an ordinance Monday against firing guns within the city limits. Should be enforced … will prevent such scenes as were on our streets Monday.”

On May 21, another item reported: “Tons of wire were received by our ranchmen this spring which denotes that our ranchers are erecting fences.”

In June of 1891, a portentous item in The News announced, “... nearly all the timber on the line of the D.&R.G. west of Chama has been removed. Archuleta County today has the finest belt of timber in the whole state, and some railroad company will want the opportunity to haul it out in the near future.”

Editor Egger’s prophecy (the previous item) about a railroad and timber harvest moving to Archuleta County from Rio Arriba County in the territory of New Mexico was right on, although it would be a few years before fulfillment. The actual fulfillment began in 1895 when the Biggs family built a railroad from Lumberton to Edith (named for a Biggs daughter) and started logging along the Navajo river in Archuleta County.

In July of 1891, Egger visited A.A. Putnam’s ranch just west of the Pagosa Springs town limits. Pioneer Putnam is the source of the name Put Hill, now U.S.160 west of Pagosa Springs between Pagosa Springs and the collection of Pagosa Lakes subdivisions. Because Putnam’s name contains only one “T,” Put Hill should be spelled with one T.

Incidentally, prior to the building of the current Put Hill road during the 1930s, the Pagosa/Durango Stage Road left Pagosa Springs on the west side approximately one block south of the present route, following Piedra Street. Put’s property located on the south side of the earlier route was located approximately south, and maybe a little west of the present elementary school grounds. The two-story Put house still stands and was actively occupied the last time I knew anything about its present condition.

Egger visited Putnam because,“Mr. Putnam is now busily engaged in the manufacturing of brick. He has completed the burning of a kiln of lime…expects to make 200,000 bricks this season.” I have never seen a brick with Putnam’s imprint on it, but have been told that Putnam bricks were used in the construction of the Phillips Building during 1897/1898. The Phillips building is now known as the Hersch Building. It remains on the main block of Pagosa Street in downtown Pagosa Springs, but has been extensively renovated.

In September of 1891, Egger reported in the News: “The property in this town belonging to Capt. M.H. Insley and Dr. Van Duyn, of Leavenworth, and Joseph Clarke of Durango, has been divided and now each one owns a certain portion of lots individually. This property comprises about forty lots on the west side (Block 21, Pagosa Springs’s main business block — Motter) on which the barracks are located. Messrs. Insley and Van Duyn have placed their lots on the market.”

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