Newspaper accounts of early days

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Photo courtesy John M. Motter The first bathhouse at Pagosa Springs, shown here, was built by Thomas Blair and was a single room. Water reached the bathhouse via a trench connecting it with the big Pagosa Hot Spring.
Photo courtesy John M. Motter
The first bathhouse at Pagosa Springs, shown here, was built by Thomas Blair and was a single room. Water reached the bathhouse via a trench connecting it with the big Pagosa Hot Spring.

We have been using newspaper articles from surrounding communities to describe events happening in Pagosa Springs prior to 1890, when the town got its first newspaper.

From an April 12, 1879, edition of the La Plata Miner published in Animas City, we read:

“Pagosa Springs seems to attract the attention of this section to a considerable extent. It will no doubt be a good business point, it having a central location in the Southwestern portion of the state, and natural advantages as a resort for the health and pleasure seeker.”

The same issue disclosed, “Pagosa Springs, by a recent order from General Pope, has been transformed into a town, and lots are being taken up rapidly.”

A letter from an unknown writer in Pagosa Springs to the Miner dated April 11, 1879, read: “I take pleasure in sending you a few items from Pagosa. We have a nice beautiful country here, and its future prospects are flattering.

“There are some thirty-three buildings at this place. Two mercantile establishments — Major Peabody, the post trader and Indian trader also, and Joe Clarke and Ed Laithe the other. There are four saloons owned by Major Peabody, Ed Laithe, Thomas Blair, and Broad & Co., and one butcher shop owned by Stull (Stollsteimer?), and Capt. W.S. Walker, and one sawmill owned by Major Cooper of Animas City but superintended by Thos. Graden.

“The convenience for bathing at the springs are rather poor just now, there being no public bathhouse … Mr. Dunn, of Animas City, met with quite a misfortune on Monday last. He and his wife being out visiting, their tent caught on fire and burned to ashes in about ten minutes …”

The first burial at Pagosa took place the latter part of April 1879. Jose M. Velarde of Tierra Amarilla died. Cause of death was said to be old age. Ed Laithe conducted the services.

Velarde’s death was reported in the May 3 La Plata Miner. The same issue reported: “The town site question has been settled. There is one square mile around the springs set aside for the government town site and quite a number of new buildings are now being erected.

“Clark and Row are building a large house which they will fill with goods when completed.

“The grounds for the new military post will be surveyed soon, as there has been a surveyor and crew here and work will begin by the first of June or July. An appropriation of 40,000 dollars has been made by Congress to build a permanent fort known as Fort Lewis.”

The same newspaper complimented mail carrier Frank M. Gallup for conducting the mail between Silverton and Pagosa Springs all winter along “a difficult and dangerous route.”