The railroad was coming to town


Pagosa Springs was a busy place in 1900. The Pagosa News reported the erection of several business buildings and residences.

In an April 27 item, The News noted, “The Pagosa Lumber Company commenced running a night shift this week, and still they can’t supply the demand. They are running 150 men at the Junction (Pagosa Junction) mill and expect to increase the force immediately.”

In May, a Mr. Wilson of Denver was awarded the contract for grading for the Rio Grande Pagosa and Northern railroad from the end of their line to Pagosa Springs. According to The News, “Saturday several carloads of men, horses, and scrapers arrived at the end of the road and on Monday they commenced moving dirt. The railroad will be completed to Dyke’s in a few weeks as the grade work to that point was almost completed last fall.”

The railroad coming from Pagosa Junction to Pagosa Springs was the talk of Pagosa Country through 1900. Weekly reports in the newspaper traced its progress. Settlers and business people moved into the area, confident that the burgeoning lumber industry with its railroad connecting Pagosa Country with the outside world meant prosperity for everyone.

W.W. Mullins with his family came with others in a wagon train over Elwood Pass. Mrs. Mullins hoped to farm. “Bill” ended up barbering. His son, Earl, continued the family tradition and operated a barbershop with a barber chair imported from Silverton that was a landmark on Pagosa Street for decades. The practice of “coming west” by wagons pulled by horses, mules or oxen continued into the 1920s. Homestead land was available in Pagosa Country into the 1930s.

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