Taking on the ‘Political Octopus’

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    Photo courtesy John M. Motter During the early days of Archuleta County, railroad tracks went anywhere a sufficient stand of Ponderosa pines could be found. As soon as the trees were cut, the tracks were moved to the next stand of pines. Trains were used to haul logs to the mill and to carry the newly sawn lumber to markets.
    Photo courtesy John M. Motter
    During the early days of Archuleta County, railroad tracks went anywhere a sufficient stand of Ponderosa pines could be found. As soon as the trees were cut, the tracks were moved to the next stand of pines. Trains were used to haul logs to the mill and to carry the newly sawn lumber to markets.

    The Pagosa Springs economy perked up so much in 1899 that a second newspaper titled “The Pagosa Hot Springs weekly” began publication.

    News editor Daniel Egger did not exactly embrace his competition, as indicated by the following comment: “It has a good appearance, but politically contains more trash to the square inch than anything yet published.”

    The election of 1899 turned into another hot affair and Egger was in the middle of it. A Democrat and populist, Egger squared off against lumber mogul E.M. Biggs and the Archuleta family. The Republicans swept the local ticket and Eggers reported, “We have met the enemy and we are theirs.”

    He went on to say, “Such wholesale fraud as was perpetrated on the people of the county as was practiced at Edith and on the San Juan River should not be permitted to go unpunished. It is necessary that a stop be put to that kind of work or honest people will almost be compelled to leave the county in disgust … Money flowed among the purchasable ones like water and the combination had its own way.”

    When he used the word combination, Egger was referring to Biggs, owner of the New Mexico Lumber Company at Edith and newly elected county commissioner, the Archuleta families for whom the county was named and who lived in and had business interests in Edith, and Sullenburger, with his new mill at Pagosa Junction.

    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.