Archuleta County goes dry, tax revenue needed

4
Photo courtesy John M. Motter There have been plenty of bars in Pagosa Springs’ history, except for the years when the sale or use of alcohol was illegal in the county. Even then, anyone who wanted to drink alcoholic beverages could find them. Bootlegging was a profitable business.
Photo courtesy John M. Motter
There have been plenty of bars in Pagosa Springs’ history, except for the years when the sale or use of alcohol was illegal in the county. Even then, anyone who wanted to drink alcoholic beverages could find them. Bootlegging was a profitable business.

Whisperings of a change in public attitude toward one of the Old West’s most venerated institutions — saloons — appeared in the columns of the News in March of 1897.

Editor Daniel Egger reported: “Some citizens are advocating a higher license fee for saloons in the town — some because they desire to drive them out of business, and others from a selfish motive. They probably have never considered the matter from a financial standpoint. It is now six years since Pagosa Springs was incorporated and the taxpayers have never been called on to contribute a cent towards the town government, all of the revenues being derived from the license paid by saloons. Without the money derived from the saloons a levy of from ten to twenty mills would be required to meet current expenses. The News is of the opinion that no change for the better can be made for the town from the present system in vogue.”

Whether Egger wanted to pay a tax or not, a new wave of anti-saloon sentiment was growing across the country and would sweep Pagosa Springs into its path. By 1911, Archuleta County was dry. Another reason to levy taxes was rearing its head. The need for community water, electricity, sewage collection and treatment, and other services was being felt. Saloon license fees were not sufficient to cover the anticipated expenses. Pagosa Springs was moving into the 20th century.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.