Traversing Wolf Creek Pass in 1916

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
This is one of the most popular photos of the Pagosa Hot Springs during pioneer times.

Our writer concluded last week’s column with the statement: “Now night was coming and we were still two and one half miles from Mr. Logan’s work camp.” Picking up where we left off last week, we continue:
“The lighter weight cars passed through the mud holes all right, and drove on towards camp, but the heavier cars just sank. Marguerite and I walked the distance through the mud and rain to the road camp for help. Mr. Logan sent four big horses to assist, but they couldn’t move the cars. When this didn’t work, Eugene Hatcher backed their Vellie from camp carrying heavy log chains. With the horses and chains, the cars were pulled out.
“The high altitude and the excitement of the day, besides the wet and cold, were more than I could take. The cook and his buddy moved their beds into the dining tent, and fixed a place for me to lie down and rest. My family didn’t get to camp until 8:00 P.M. I was too tired to eat, and didn’t get warm all night.
“When morning came, I still couldn’t eat, but the sun came out and we were ready to make a fresh start. Mr. Logan sent his crew ahead early to fill in a one hundred foot bog with spruce boughs. Still, every car had to be pulled through. We still had rough going to the top of the pass, which is over ten thousand feet high. We were told that our troubles were all over, as it was down grade, and work done the previous fall was well packed by highway equipment. We were all in good spirits, for we knew that no one would meet us today. Each car took its own pace coming down, not too close because of the sharp curves—Joseph and I still following at ten miles an hour, and in low gear. We came to a section of the road which was supported by a built up rock wall, and noticed that the tracks of the cars ahead were only four or five inches from the rocks, but it looked safe enough, when CRASH! that entire wall gave way and let the left side of our car down and hanging in mid-air. Only a very small rock below our left front wheel kept us from going down. As we carefully slipped out on the upper side, the car teetered as if it were on its way down. Only a miracle caused it to hold, for it seemed that a puff of wind could set it off. We stood and looked — all the cars had gone ahead, and we alone with miles to any work camp. We knew that my husband would stop soon, if Marguerite didn’t see us coming behind them. After about fifteen or twenty minutes a wagon with two men carrying heavy cables and a bicycle came along. The men tied the car to the trees on the upper side with ropes. One man rode the wheel down two miles where he met David walking back with some of the work crew. The men cut down several small trees and built cribbing which they filled in with rocks. Then they jacked up the car little by little, built again, until it was in a near level position. Six men held the cables while David drove to solid ground.”
Are they ever going to get off that terrible mountain? Read next week’s column to find out.

This story was posted on December 31, 2019.