Pagosa Country dances out of 1895

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Photo courtesy John M. Motter Pagosa Springs had its own boy band, as attested to by this 1900 photo. The band performed in parades in various towns in the Four Corners area. Fil Byrnes holds the reins in this photo. In the front is Luke Rock, the band director.
Photo courtesy John M. Motter
Pagosa Springs had its own boy band, as attested to by this 1900 photo. The band performed in parades in various towns in the Four Corners area. Fil Byrnes holds the reins in this photo. In the front is Luke Rock, the band director.

In November of 1895, Pagosa folks engaged in one of their favorite pastimes — dancing. This dance was held in Edith at the brand-new, state-of-the-art New Mexico Lumber Company mill.

Pagosa News editor Daniel Egger chose the opportunity to ooze enthusiasm. “The ball at Edith was the largest gathering of its kind it has been our pleasure to see for years. It is estimated that over three hundred people participated in the affair … The dance took place in the new store building, which is 25 by 80 feet … At one time there were 88 couples on the floor … Excellent music was furnished by Mayor Lewis, F.J. Brumly, Editor McCarthy and others.”

You can bet the store was built and owned by the New Mexico Lumber Company, a sure-fire company store. Workers in the mill could charge groceries and other items on a tab until payday. When payday came and the bill was paid, the lumber company retained most of the paycheck.

In my younger years, my dad worked in mills in Oregon. My first job out of high school was pulling green chain in a lumber mill. Running a tab at the company store kept food on the table and most of our money in the mill owner’s pocket. Mill workers seldom got out of debt. The old country song with the line, “I owe my soul to the company store” was stating a fact of life for mill workers.

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