Pagosa Springs History Museum to open for 40th season Saturday

The Pagosa Springs History Museum opens for its 40th season on Saturday, May 28, at 9 a.m.

The museum has been vacuumed, dusted and shined for visitors to enjoy.

History is the focus, with displays ranging from household items to farming and ranching, railroad and business.

Cowboy cooking 

Sixth-generation rancher J.D. Guilliams will join his grandparents John and Jean Taylor for a demonstration of campfire cooking on opening day from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The trio will prepare biscuits in Dutch ovens, much as our early settlers would have done. Some fresh homemade jam will be on hand to put on the biscuits.

S’mores and cookies will also be prepared.

The museum

Pagosa Springs’ history museum is located at the old town waterworks site at the corner of U.S. 160 and 1st Street. The town offered this location to the San Juan Historical Society when it was first formed in 1970.

About the same time, the Job Corps was being phased out and one of the buildings there was determined to be about the right size for the site. It was dismantled, cut into two pieces, relocated to the new site and reconstructed.

The rock building, which houses a portion of the museum, was constructed in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration. It was built to cover the water wheel that pushed the water through the town’s system. The large, open-topped tanks behind the museum once served as settlement and holding tanks for the town’s water supply.


Volunteers have been working for more than four decades to collect and preserve the history of the area. The collection that has been amassed is varied and informative. Special exhibits depict life in early day Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County.

Students of Worthe Crouse will enjoy the welded art on display, including a self-portrait. Crouse was also one of the founding members of the historical society and instrumental in relocating the building, which houses the museum in its current location.

The museum collection also includes a one-room school featuring furnishing from the Blanco Basin School and the desk used by Ruby Sisson, a favorite teacher of many generations of students in Pagosa Springs.

Quilt exhibit

This summer’s quilt display is exciting as the quilts on display are in the permanent collection of the Society.

These quilts date from 1840 to 1960. They are representative of the quilts that were brought to Pagosa Springs by the first settlers and those that were made as our community settled and grew. There are also several friendship quilts and some crazy quilts that date from 1890 to 1900.

The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at 96 Pagosa St., which is at the corner of U.S. 160 and 1st Street in downtown Pagosa Springs.

Be sure to visit the museum this summer to see the quality exhibits in the museum at no charge.