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Pagosa Springs, Colorado

"Pahgosa" -- Healing Waters

Downtown Pagosa Springs, Circa 1909
Downtown Pagosa Springs, Circa 1909

Pagosa Hot Spring, Circa 1925

The ancient Indians who once populated what is now Southwest Colorado named this area "Pahgosa", meaning "Healing Waters".

It is said that when the first white explorers entered this area in July, 1858, there were well-beaten trails leading off in all directions.
The image to the right is the Big Pagosa Hot Spring as it appears today.

The bubbles on the water are caused by natural carbon dioxide emitted by the spring.  The surface temperature of the spring averages 136 degrees Fahrenheit.

See the modern-day hot springs resort area.

Pagosa Hot Spring, Circa 2001

The Pagosa Springs area is rich in geothermal energy resources.  Many of the buildings in downtown Pagosa Springs are heated by hot spring water.

Learn more about the geology of the area.
Learn how Pagosa Springs has harnessed the clean geothermal energy from its springs.

Downtown Pagosa Springs, Circa 2001
Downtown Pagosa Springs, Circa 2001

Some Area Links

Chamber of Commerce
Pagosa Springs Sun
Pagosa Springs School System
San Juan National Forest
Wolf Creek Ski Area

Helen Peterson, wife of Jack Peterson, was well-respected in the area for the excellent masonery work she did.

This example encloses a natural hot spring in the center of town.  Over time this spring has formed a cone of calcium deposits through which hot water bubbles.
Helen Peterson's Rockwork

Captain John N. Macomb, an engineer surveying a route west for the U.S. Army, is reputed to be the first white American to discover the hot springs in July, 1858.
He wrote, “It can scarcely be doubted that in the future years it will become a celebrated place of resort.”

In 1867, ownership of the springs was contested by the Utes and the Navajo Indians.  Tribal skirmishes failed to gain an advantage for either side. The tribes decided to settle the right of ownership by sending one man from each tribe to do battle.  Colonel Albert Pfieffer, long time friend of the Utes and a foe of the Navajos, agreed to do battle for the Utes.

Both men stripped to the waist and armed themselves with knives.  Pfieffer quickly out-maneuvered the Navajo and defeated him.  The Navajos accepted the defeat and the Utes claimed the springs until 1874, when the Burnett Agreement was signed and the white man received possession of the springs.

In the late 1800s several bath houses were constructed and a town grew around the springs.  Many people came to take advantage of the remarkable curative powers of the hot springs.

Today, hot mineral baths and a hot mineral swimming pool are operated by nearby motels.  The hot mineral water still holds an aura of mystery and many attest to its therapeutic value.

The hot springs will undoubtedly play a major role in the future of Pagosa Springs.

Archive images on this page courtesy Denver Public Library, Western Collection

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