A traveler wrote in the Del Norte Prospector June 12, 1880: “At Pagosa Springs are many old timers, among whom are Messrs. Chestnut, Blair, Thomas, Spradling, Pangborn, Devereux, Bennett, and others. Pagosa Springs boasts of probably twenty-five business houses, several residences, and during the past winter had a population of 200 souls aside from five companies of soldiers which keep the place boiling at all times.”
The same traveler continued, “… while crossing the range from Conejos to the Navajo, that is, Cumbres Pass, the party was stopped at three toll gates, broke a singletree, and the second cook bit the neck of a milk bottle when the wagon hit a chuckhole.”
In June of 1880, the General Land Office ordered the survey of, “the town site of one mile square, of which Pagosa Hot Springs will be the central point. The chief object of your survey … adjustment of a claim so the location of lands with Valentine Scrip may be effective.”
Blair, a former miner at Silverton, wrote Capt. W.S. Walker of Silverton in July of 1880 stating that Mr. Dunn, who had resided at Pagosa Springs for two years, had been stabbed three times in the back.
A man by the name of Daniels did the stabbing. Squire Laithe (Motter — the constable) of Pagosa Springs bound Daniels over to the District Court with a bond of $1,000. Dr. Cochran, military doctor of Fort Lewis, attended Dunn, who survived.
In November of 1880, the La Plata Miner editor promised to give readers of the San Juan an account of the southern route between Silverton and the end of the railroad, then nearing the top of Cumbres Pass on its westward march from Antonito to Animas City, soon to become Durango. The trip was made from Animas City to the railhead with a freight wagon and team, “in order that those who may desire to follow after us may know what they have to go through.” A party of eight hired the freight team for a total cost of $64, time for the trip — five days.
Here is the account of the trip in the writer’s own words.
“Leaving Animas City at 7 a.m. on the 11th, for the first six miles we travel over a good road with a slight up grade going East. At a point seven miles from Animas City we crossed the Florida, a small stream and a tributary of the Animas River. (Motter — the road leaving Animas City in an easterly direction at that time still exists. It left the town through a pass east of the location of what for many years has been known as Mercy Hospital).