In November of 1880, the editor of Silverton’s La Plata Miner published the following, first-person account of his trip from Animas City to Chama by way of Pagosa Springs.
Animas City was subsequently swallowed by Durango, but at that time Durango was as yet unborn. The trip was made with a freight team “in order that those who may desire to follow after us may know when they have got through.”
A party of eight hired the freight team for a total cost of $64, time to go through—five days.
“Leaving Animas city at 7 a.m. of the 11th, for the first six miles we travel over a good road with a slight upgrade going east. At a point seven miles from Animas City there is water for camping purposes and here we paused to camp and take dinner. At nine miles from Animas City we cross the Florida, a small stream and a tributary to the Animas River. From the Florida we cross a low divide over an easy grade and splendid road to Pine River. (Motter — Bayfield area, Bayfield wasn’t named until about 1900.) We found the very best accommodations for the traveler that is found on the road between Animas City and the end of the track. Mr. Johnson (Charlie ‘Racehorse’ Johnson) is the proprietor of the hotel or stopping place. The house is large and comfortable, the beds first-class, and the table better than can be obtained at any hotel in Southwestern Colorado. At Mr. Johnson’s, we stopped overnight and on the morning of the 12th, the second day out from Animas City, made a point thirty-two miles from Animas, where we camped for dinner, with good water and plenty of wood; (for that matter, there is no point on the road from the Animas to the end of the track that there is not an abundant supply of wood for camping purposes and the greater part of the way the road passes through the finest saw timber to be found in the West, and from this section the whole state of Colorado will receive her lumber supply upon the completion of the D. & R. G. road.) But we camped for dinner, and dinner being over, we had better make a start, for we have a drive of sixteen miles to reach a camping place for the night, which is at Stollsteimer’s Ranch on Stollsteimer Creek thirteen miles from Pagosa Springs and forty-eight or fifty miles from Animas City. (Motter — near the present community of Dyke.) Mr. Stollsteimer is one of the most successful stock men in Southwestern Colorado and has immense herds of cattle and sheep which roam over the mesas and foothills to the west of the San Juan River. Mr. S does not keep travelers, it is not his business, he is a stock man, but he kindly furnished the necessary blankets to the writer, for a bed and a comfortable place to sleep, and permitted the balance of the family to occupy a comfortable camping house.”