By Terri Lynn Oldham House
We lived in a tent on our land in the Aspen Springs subdivision that first Pagosa summer while we waited for our home to arrive.
We had lived a couple of years in Texas before moving here and we lived in a doublewide mobile home. When it came time to move, we hired someone to move the mobile home to Colorado. We lived in that tent for weeks and weeks while waiting for the house to arrive.
We had to drill a well and put in a septic system. We had no telephone and no electricity.
No one else lived in Unit 5 of the Aspen Springs subdivision year-round. We were true pioneers.
Our goal was to have electricity and a house before we had to start school. I would be in sixth grade and my sister would be a freshman in high school.
Dad had to cut down dozens of trees along lot lines and over a hill to allow La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) to put in power poles and pull power lines to our valley. When they got to the top of the hill by our house, it took dynamite to open up one hole.
When they yelled “fire in the hole,” no one warned my dog. My black lab, Snuffy, ran in before detonation, and thankfully, he came back out unscathed, shaking off the dirt and debris afterward. It’s a story some of the linemen at LPEA still tell today.
We wouldn’t have telephones until I was in high school. I don’t recall feeling deprived.
The roads in Aspen Springs were pretty rough back then. We would get high centered in our old Chevy Blazer during mud season. They weren’t county roads and there was no one but us to maintain them.
Dad always worked on the roads, trying to make them better. Eventually, he convinced some people that they needed to form a metro district with the purpose of building roads for all of Aspen Springs. We ended up with the best roads in the county.
I bought land in Aspen Springs when I was out on my own. I was lucky to get the lot right next to my mom and dad. I put in a septic and a cistern. Before that, I lived in an 8-foot-by-32-foot trailer on my folks’ property.
I lived in Aspen Springs for nearly 30 years of my life. It was what I could afford, and it gave me the freedom of not being told by a homeowners association that I couldn’t park a horse trailer in my yard or that I couldn’t live in a trailer with straw bales for skirting. No one could tell me what color to paint my house. We had no restrictions or covenants. We only had to follow county code. I would end up buying a modular home for my land years later. All I had to do was meet the county’s snow load requirements.
Like any community, there were some wonderful things about life in Aspen Springs and there were some parts that weren’t so great. It is one of the largest subdivisions in the county with some of the best roads when compared to other areas.
Aspen Springs is one of the more affordable places to live in Archuleta County, especially now that prices have been rising so quickly. It is a viable option for people to buy a piece of land that they can turn into a home.
Central water and sewer are not options for homeowners in Aspen Springs, so property owners work with San Juan Basin Public Health to put in cisterns and septic systems. Some people are fortunate and are able to get a well with good water.
Parts of Aspen Springs are largely off the grid.
People in Aspen Springs take pride in their community. They built a clubhouse. Now they are working on having a park with playground equipment. One thing is for certain: Many property owners have worked to make the community better for all who live there.
Yes, like any community, there are problems with people not keeping their property cleaned up, but I think most people are trying to keep their places up and have pride in ownership, and, like myself, also appreciate that there is no homeowner association to rule over them.
In a story in last week’s paper, a general contractor and the lead for a shipping container housing project noted that his homes don’t have a long lifespan and he stated, “These are going to be cut up and taken out to Aspen Springs in 15 to 20 years and people are going to patch them up and live in them out there.”
It was an unfortunate statement made without regard for the many residents of Aspen Springs who are vital to our community as a whole.
Aspen Springs residents are teachers, library staff, county employees, retired military, law enforcement officers, business owners, medical staff, community volunteers and so much more.
We are thankful for the positive contributions Aspen Springs residents make to our community.