We continue to list interesting news items taken from the 1891 Pagosa Springs News.
The opening for settlement of the 6-square-mile military reservation surrounding Pagosa Springs was announced in the July 3, 1891, edition of “The News.” The announcement said, in part, “When it is opened there will be a lively scramble to get a piece of it. A good part of it is already improved and resided on by those who improved it. The bill makes no stipulation in regard to those squatters but it is assumed that they gave no prior rights.”
Ownership of the Pagosa hot spring and the land surrounding it was a cloudy issue in the early days. The cloudiness comes from a series of governmental “set aside” orders that assumed the federal government owned the land in the beginning and could therefore legally dispose of it.
Remember, the land we are talking about had been part of the Southern Ute Reservation. A series of treaties, some disputed by the Utes, seemed to separate the Utes from this land. Especially questioned was the Brunot Treaty of 1873, which seemed to negate any Ute ownership of lands immediately adjacent to Pagosa Springs or of the hot springs.
Here, in chronological order, are a series of federal “set aside” actions: