The community suffered a sadness recently when the Bear Creek Saloon and Grill burned. When I moved to Pagosa Springs ca. 1970, the building was known as the Los Banos Hotel and it was owned by a member of the Snooks family, early pioneers who lived near the Piedra River crossing west of the town on the way to Durango.
The Snooks family sold the hotel and it subsequently went through a number of names and construction changes. Throughout the years, the building has housed a bar, restaurants, a game room, community dances and living facilities while serving community members and tourists alike.
Construction of the 50-by-50-foot, two-story adobe building began in 1900. The owners were Frank Buckles and a man named Schultz. The building started as the Buckles and Schultz Hall. In the beginning, the building contained a general mercantile store on the first floor and a meeting room on the second floor.
Buckles also had a large residence in the north part of town and was undoubtedly connected with Buckles Lake, situated just below V Rock in the southeastern part of the county.
Items in the newspaper pointed out that Frank Buckles bragged that he had been in Tombstone, Ariz., at the time of the shootout at the OK Corral.
In 1903, Buckles erected a frame addition to his building and in 1905 built a 50-by-150-foot concrete bathhouse. Water for the bathhouse was supplied by an artesian geothermal well drilled on the property.
Shortly after completing his 1905 alterations, Buckles sold out to Brice Patterson, of Silverton, who further enlarged the building. Patterson changed the business name to the Arlington Hotel and operated under that name until 1934, when he lost ownership during the depression. Anyone familiar with Colorado history will recognize the Patterson family name. They first entered Colorado in 1858. Before coming to Pagosa Springs, Patterson had been involved in mining at Silverton.
Patterson added big game hunting to the list of services offered. Always active in politics, Patterson served as mayor of Pagosa Springs in 1909 and was later elected to the Colorado legislature.
Under Patterson and later, the restaurant in the hotel was well-known throughout the southwest. A visit to Pagosa Springs meant a visit to the hotel.