More on the early-day hot springs business



As we reported last week, the Pagosa Springs Company incorporated in November of 1883, operated the Great Pagosa Hot Springs until it went bankrupt and sold it to a Mr. Owen F. Boyle, of Durango, in December of 1910.

Presumably, the Pagosa Springs Company took over the bathhouse built in 1881 by Thomas Blair. Blair built his bathhouse on U.S. land. When the Pagosa Springs Company was awarded title to the land it is reasonable to assume they also took over the bathhouse.

Absentee ownership was practiced by the Pagosa Springs Company, with headquarters in Leavenworth, Kans. Several local managers either operated the business for the absentee owners or leased the business.

Joseph Clark was one of those managers.

Clarke lived in Pagosa Springs from its inception. He operated a general store and the community’s first post office as early as June 5, 1878.

His building was located on the north side of Baker’s Toll Road, which crossed the San Juan River about one mile south of the main hot spring. The toll road included a bridge across the San Juan and had been scratched into the earth between Abiquiu and Baker’s Park north of Durango some time shortly after 1862.

Clarke was still around when Pagosa Springs town lots were auctioned off by the federal government in 1885. Clarke purchased 50 of those lots including all of Block 21, the main business block in the old downtown area. Clarke moved to Durango a short time later where he served at one time as a La Plata County Commissioner.

Another  of the managers of the hot springs was Marion Patrick, who leased the hot springs and bathhouse. Advertisements in the Pagosa Springs News during the 1890s, say the Patrick House Hotel provided excellent rooms and food, and was located near the main hot spring.

Next week, we will describe operation of the hot springs resort by a Mrs. J.L. Campbell, possibly an ancestor of former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell.