Archuleta County in 1895: railroads and future wealth

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Photo courtesy John M. Motter Engine 97 was a familiar sight for many years in Pagosa Country after the narrow gauge railroad reached town in 1901. In addition to hauling supplies and passengers, local residents occasionally used the train to venture out of town for a picnic. The lady in this picture is Hattie McGirr, the daughter of E.M. Taylor, longtime county and town clerk.
Photo courtesy John M. Motter
Engine 97 was a familiar sight for many years in Pagosa Country after the narrow gauge railroad reached town in 1901. In addition to hauling supplies and passengers, local residents occasionally used the train to venture out of town for a picnic. The lady in this picture is Hattie McGirr, the daughter of E.M. Taylor, longtime county and town clerk.

During August of 1895, the Pagosa News reported that a route was surveyed from Edith to Pagosa Springs for the proposed railroad between those communities.

From the mill on the Navajo, the proposed route followed that river upstream 5 miles to Chromo, then up the Little Navajo, across the divide into Coyote Park past the Krenz and Harris ranches, over the divide into Blanco Canyon, followed the Blanco to its confluence with the Little Blanco, up that stream and over the divide at the Minium Ranch, across the parks to Mill Creek, down that stream to the San Juan, and up the San Juan to Pagosa Springs.

Most of this route was actually built, but a separate route went generally north out of Edith and across Coyote Park, wound through Halfway Canyon to the Blanco, followed the Blanco to the Little Blanco, crossed the divide near present U.S. 84 and into and across Squaw Valley, then onward to Echo Creek, where it stopped. Portions of this old railroad bed are still visible, especially when looking to the east while driving through Halfway Canyon. Much of the northern part became U.S. 84 during the 1930s after the New Mexico Lumber Co. moved westward to the Dolores area. A number of spurs helped grab the timber from smaller valleys to the East.

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