Mining claims, liquor-license pricing flavored growth

Durangoans looked around in 1888 and could be pleased. Slowly, the town and county were growing, and even hints of another railroad connection were rumored around town. The 1880s had been a good decade for them so far. But was “demon rum” paying its fair share?

The Daily Idea March 9, 1888

“The general land office has just decided that land ‘supposed’ to contain oil or mineral cannot be held under placer claim entry against agriculture filing. The land must be proved by actual development work to be oil or mineral land before the placer claim can be made to stick. The decision affects a good deal of land in Pueblo County, and occasions considerable grief among oil prospectors.”

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“The council meeting last Tuesday evening promised to have been a very interesting session as it was supposed the advocating of high license would introduce an ordinance increasing the saloon license to $1,000 instead of $250, the present rate. The saloon men were out in full force to fight the measure, and were armed with formidable petition, signed by a large number of citizens asking that for the present at least the license be not increased. However, the matter did not come up for discussion one way or the other. Mr. Bayly stated that owing to the sentiment against the proposed increase, and the fact that it would be defeated if brought up he did not consider it advisable to bring the matter up before the Council at this time.

The advocates of high license argue this way: The saloons can well afford to pay the increased license in as much as their business is in a prosperous condition. Again, high license is in the interest of reputable saloon men as against the disreputable element who can scrape together $250 to run a low dive, but would be driven from the field were they required to put up thousands.

The Durango saloon keepers take this stand. They say that at the present time they can ill afford to pay any higher license thanks at present assessed against them.”

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“St. Mary School conducted by the Sister of Mercy.

Board and Tuition fifteen dollars per month.

Plain and ornamental needle work are included. Music lessons three dollar per month extra.

Payments Monthly in advance.”

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“Caution the north entrance in Fassbinder’s bridge is in a dangerous condition. Travelers are cautioned against attempting to cross until repairs are made. On account of the heavy fall of snow the Silverton train did not get any farther than Elk Park.

You will surely be crazy if you do not attend the crazy supper at D.A.C. Hall tonight.

An elegant supper and no end of fun.”

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“The ball at Animas City last evening given by the Adelphi Club was a pronounced success in every particular. The Durango boys who attended did not get home until about 5 this morning but they say they are all ready for another one tonight.”

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“There was a fair audience in the court house last night to listen to the lyceum exercises. The programme was carried out by the young people’s society of Christian endeavor. This was their first public exhibition and the audience were united in the opinion that it was very creditable performance.”

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“The thermometer at 9 last evening registered 36 above zero, at 7 this morning at 31 above and at 3 this afternoon 41 above.”

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“The editor might scratch his head until incipient baldness manifested itself before he could churn out anything startlingly original concerning the weather.”

Duane Smith is a Fort Lewis College history professor. Reach him at 247-2589.