A big boom and competing lumber companies

Photo courtesy John M. Motter Railroads were necessary to cut the large amount of timber and get it to market during the 1890s and early 1900s in Archuleta County. As demonstrated in this photo, the job of getting the logs to the mill where they could be cut into lumber required a major amount of muscle.

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
Railroads were necessary to cut the large amount of timber and get it to market during the 1890s and early 1900s in Archuleta County. As demonstrated in this photo, the job of getting the logs to the mill where they could be cut into lumber required a major amount of muscle.

As we reported last week, the lumber industry moved into Archuleta County big time circa 1895.

The southern portion of Archuleta County was covered by huge stands of ponderosa pines, — huge, yellow-barked pines. The eastern side of Colorado from Boulder to Trinidad was booming. Booming means building, and building requires lumber. Lumber requires trees. Archuleta County had the trees and, by 1895, it had the railroad. Ergo, conditions were ripe for Archuleta County to boom.

Two companies were eyeing the seemingly limitless stands of pines in Archuleta County, the New Mexico Lumber Company and the Pagosa Lumber Company. The Biggs family ram-rodded the New Mexico company that had been cutting timber and operating lumber mills in the upper Chama River valley in northern New Mexico for several years. Biggs proposed to build a railroad from his northern New Mexico holdings to either Chromo or Edith and on to Pagosa Springs. His agents were already buying timber from land owners along his proposed route.

Headed by Arthur Sullenburger, the Pagosa Lumber Company proposed to start with a mill at Pagosa Junction and to build a railroad by way of Cat Creek to Pagosa Springs. His agents were also out talking to homesteaders and trying to buy timber along his proposed railroad route.

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This story was posted on September 24, 2015.