TABB - Amargo, NM

Amargo, NM

GPS Location: 36.9377889, -106.891704

Miles from Chama: 20.74

Miles from Durango: 84.29

D&RG Amargo, NM Taken by Barbor, George E. - 4/1908

The Denver and Rio Grande railhead moved west to the new town of Amargo and there the stage and freight wagons picked up passengers and freight. Amargo was a tent city catering to the needs of the rough railroad construction crews. Card sharks, gamblers, confidence men, and prostitutes contributed to the lawless atmosphere. A self-styled band of desperados headed by Charley Allison set up tents on Amargo's outskirts and proceeded to terrorize the surrounding countryside. A year earlier Allison had been a deputy sheriff in Conejos. In a few short months he allegedly committed five armed stage coach holdups near Alamosa before following the railhead west where he and his gang held up the Towns of Chama and Pagosa Springs. A Silverton newspaper writer warned that travel on the southern route was not safe and that lawlessness in the vicinity of Amargo had reached such proportions that it threatened

to shut off travel to the San Juan country.[1]


As the year 1881 closed, because of its proximity to the railroad, land in the southern part of Archuleta County was settled. [2]


In the mid-1890s, a man named Ed Vorhang was given a homestead title to the 160 acres where Amargo was located. Then he told the other occupants, including business owners, that they owed him rent. They refused and he insisted. Someone took a shot at him as a warning, another threatened to blacken both eyes, and another set off a load of dynamite under Vorhang’s bedroom. Fortunately for Vorhang, the dynamite exploded on the wrong side of the room from where he was sleeping. Finally, tired of Vorhang, the business owners picked up their businesses as best they could, moved a mile west, and founded Lumberton, which remains to this day. Amargo died a slow death.[3]


In July of 1893, Ed. A. Vorhang's hotel in Amargo was burned. Vorhang had recently won title to the land on which Amargo's business houses and residences rested. He tried to collect rent from those people and apparently, they tried to persuade him to overlook the rent collection. The News reported, ''There is no doubt the fire was started by an incendiary. In fact the people seem to know just who did it, yet there is no proof to convict. Mr. Vorhang has just recently obtained title to the land on which Amargo is located, and for years there has been trouble between him and the residents of the town.[4] A September News article headlined, "Dastardly Deeds" read: "Amargo has assassins as well as incendiarists within her confines. On Tuesday night before retiring Ed Vorhang went out of the house, and while standing near the door some one shot at him, the ball passing through the fleshy part of his arm and lodging in the wall of the house. The shot came from behind the fence of the corral just west of the Archuleta store. Mr. Vorhang's wound is painful but not dangerous. Life in Amargo must be a burden. The trouble there seems to have just begun. "The stage driver reported yesterday evening that the night before some giant powder was exploded under Mr. Vorhang's house, in the corner which was previously occupied by a bed. The location of the bed had been thoughtfully changed, or the dastardly attempt might have succeeded, as a large hole was torn in the building. Mr. Vorhang has wisely left town."


The beginning of the end for Amargo, the town too tough to live, was signaled in this February 23, 1894, newspaper item. "Orders have been received at Amargo to remove the post office to Lumberton.. It is thought the railroad depot will be removed also in the very near future. Then

Amargo will pass out of existence."[5] Lumberton was founded about two and one-half miles

west of Amargo for several reasons. One reason was Ed Vorhang. Since he owned Amargo, the business people of the community decided to start a new town. E.M. Biggs, of the New Mexico Lumber Company, constructed a sawmill at the new Lumberton site and started his logging railroad to Archuleta county from that point. Thus did Amargo die. Stock yards and loading chutes existed there into the middle 1930s[6]

[1] Pagosa Country the First 50 Years, John Motter p78

[2] Pagosa Country the First 50 Years, John Motter p79

[3] 2017-05-25 Pagosa SUN PREVIEW, Section 1, Page 21

[4] Pagosa Country the First 50 Years, John Motter p91

[5] Pagosa Country the First 50 Years, John Motter p92

[6] Pagosa Country the First 50 Years, John Motter p92