Pagosa’s first bank fails and another opens

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
More than one fire ravaged the Citizens Bank building located on the northwest corner of San Juan and Pagosa streets. Following the fire pictured in this photo, which started in an apartment on the second floor, the two-story building was rebuilt as a one-story building.

In 1908, Pagosa Springs’ first bank, appropriately called The First Bank of Pagosa Springs, failed. The bank did not fail because of local mismanagement or because of lack of local support. The parent bank in Denver crashed. Consequently, Pagosa Springs was again without a bank.

An item in the January of 1908 “The New Era,” an early Pagosa Springs newspaper, provided a clue as to the solution of the no bank problem.

The item read, “Fred Catchpole, formerly cashier of the First State Bank of Sterling, Nebraska, one of the soundest banks of that state, was here visiting his friends Dr. and Mrs. DeMotte and investigating conditions with a view to starting a bank at Pagosa if the place suits him and our people think he suits the place. Mr. Catchpole made the New Era a pleasant visit and assured us that he was not here to ‘butt in’ on any efforts of the home people to start a bank, but now since the agreement has done away with any probability of another bank being started on the assets of the first bank, he felt at liberty to start a bank with the cooperation of home people if he and they felt so generally inclined. Mr. Catchpole seems to be a man worth much to any community and The New Era hopes he will be encouraged to become one of us.”

A new bank, called The Citizens Bank of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, commenced business March 1, 1908. It still exists in Pagosa Springs, having survived even the Great Depression of the 1930s.

A.J. Nossaman was the first president, Fred Catchpole the first cashier and J.S. Hatcher the first vice president. Citizens Bank opened business in the building on San Juan Street formerly housing the defunct First Bank of Pagosa Springs. Mr. and Mrs. Catchpole lived in the rear of the bank building.

A two-story brick building was begun almost immediately on the northwest corner of the intersection of San Juan and Pagosa streets. Once completed in 1909, the building was occupied continuously until 1970, when it moved to a location it continues to occupy a few blocks west in the mall on San Juan Street. The building survived more than one fire. Following one of those fires, it was restored as a one-story building.

The bank soon became a community landmark. The list of stockholders reads like a Who’s Who of prominent Pagosa residents at the time it was built and throughout the many years to come until the present time.