The big news in Pagosa Springs in 1899 was the letting of contracts for the construction of a branch railroad from Gato water tank, soon to be known as Pagosa Junction, to Pagosa Springs. Pagosa residents could exclaim with considerable excitement, “Finally! At last! At last!”
Folks knew, as did many western towns, a railroad could make or break the town’s economy. And the locals, from the time the town started in 1877 until the 1899 promise, had survived a series of promises that never bore fruit, including the hope that the current Denver and Rio Grande tracks running from Chama to Durango would come through Pagosa Springs. No such luck. Those tracks were routed from Chama through Dulce, down the Navajo River to the San Juan River, to Arboles, and across the southern part of Archuleta County and on to Durango.
Although the promised new line was known as the Sullenburger line, the chief directors were from the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. The incorporated title of the coming line was the Rio Grande, Pagosa and Northern Railroad. Its stated purpose was to tap timber resources in the vicinity of Pagosa Springs.