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A new bathhouse for some ailing soldiers

Photo courtesy John M. Motter I don’t know the date of this early picture of the Pagosa Hot Springs bathhouses. Judging by the additions to the bathhouse built in 1888, and the lack of business buildings along Pagosa Street across the river, I’d guess the photo was made during the early 1890s.

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
I don’t know the date of this early picture of the Pagosa Hot Springs bathhouses. Judging by the additions to the bathhouse built in 1888, and the lack of business buildings along Pagosa Street across the river, I’d guess the photo was made during the early 1890s.

We’ve been writing about the early days of the Pagosa Hot Springs.

An item in the Summitville Nugget in August of 1883 reported “… the bath house has recently changed hands, Mr. J.L. Campbell assuming control. It is his intention to enlarge this building and erect another for exclusive use of the ladies, under the management of Mrs. Campbell. At the time of the transfer the present owner, Mr. C., threw open the baths gratis for one day. The morning was given to the men and the afternoon was reserved for the ladies. Those acquainted with the facts state that the morning natatorial activities were conducted with a decorum unwonted, but that in the afternoon the daughters of Eve had it all their own way in the shrine of Neptune. The timorous pines  trembled upon the mountain steeps, and the little blue eritrichium wandered among the lofty crags that re-echoed the peals of laughter from far below, while the splashing and screaming of the fair Nereids was heard down to Amargo with such disastrous effect that the affrighted citizens fled in disorder, as before the path of some tidal wave of fearful cataclysm.”

The Nugget continued, “Excellent accommodations can be secured at the Pagosa House or the Campbell House, including baths (which, by the way, have been reduced in price) at reasonable figures. Amargo and communication with the outside world is gained by stage daily, a distance of twenty-nine miles.”

Apparently the Pagosa Springs Company made do with Campbell’s improvements until 1888 when they erected an additional bathhouse west of the original. At that time they modified the original bathhouse, adding the spires so evident in old pictures.

Another bathhouse, for men only, was added during the summer of 1890 under the direction of manager Patrick. The new frame building was 42×22 feet  with a plunge 24×15 feet, vapor room, sweat room and sitting room. Costing $900, the new building was ready for bathers Aug. 7, just in time to serve the needs of invalid soldiers from Fort Leavenworth to bathe in the healing waters.

More on the healing waters of the Great Pagosa Hot Spring next week.

This story was posted on October 24, 2013.