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Stories written by John Motter, Pagosa's Past

Bathing at the early hot springs

Bathing at the early hot springs

We’ve been writing about ownership and development of the Pagosa Hot Springs following arrival of the white man circa 1876. Today, we continue with an 1883 description of a bath…

Early ownership of the hot springs

Early ownership of the hot springs

We continue with a sketch we started some weeks ago describing the early history of the main Pagosa Hot Spring. The full version of this story is available in the…

Despite Ute request, hot springs passes into private ownership

Despite Ute request, hot springs passes into private ownership

We continue with the story of how ownership of the Great Pagosa Hot Springs passed from Southern Ute to the U.S. government to private hands. Today’s column begins with a…

A questionable treaty, gold dust and presidential involvement

A questionable treaty, gold dust and presidential involvement

Ownership claims on the Pagosa Hot Springs had been filed as early as 1875. Those claims included attempts to obtain title under homestead laws and also under various mining laws.…

Blossoming despite disappointment

Blossoming despite disappointment

By May of 1881, Pagosa Springs could boast of its first public bathhouse, a frame building erected by Thomas Blair. It had a large plunge bath fully 4.5 feet deep…

Bathing, the principle occupation in Pagosa

Bathing, the principle occupation in Pagosa

A visitor to Pagosa Springs in 1879 who thought there might be more bath houses than people left this witticism for posterity: “In our search for knowledge, and while rambling…

The old road and private bath houses

The old road and private bath houses

When mining activity increased along the upper valley of the Animas River in the San Juan Mountains following cessation of the Civil War, circa 1870, supporting communities sprouted and grew…

Taking a look at the hot springs in 1878

Taking a look at the hot springs in 1878

Army Engineer Capt. C.A.H. McCauley toured the fledgling Army military post in Pagosa Springs in the late fall of 1878. During his visit, he described “Red Man’s bathing houses.” These…

Journeying to Pagosa Springs

Journeying to Pagosa Springs

Following the conclusion of the Civil War, prospectors packed into the San Juan Mountains, searching for their personal El Dorado. Many of those early prospectors came by way of Baker’s…

‘One of the most remarkable hot springs on the continent’

‘One of the most remarkable hot springs on the continent’

One early visitor to the Pagosa Hot Springs was Capt. John M. Macomb, an Army engineer who visited the Hot Springs in 1859 when they were as yet undisturbed by…