Editor’s note: S. H. Phlegar, Dolores, wrote this story in 1934 about events in Montezuma Valley in 1909. Twenty-five years ago at Lebanon in the Montezuma Valley – well, those were the best days ever seen in the Valley.
Everybody was a booster. Everybody had a pocket full of money. The country was full of new people. There were about ten licensed real estate firms in the Valley, and they were all doing business. Six to eight real estate hacks were backed up to the depot in Dolores seven days a week. Two passenger trains arrived every day, and the Southern Hotel fed from seventy-five to a hundred people off those trains at noon each day. Cortez, Mancos, Dolores were busy towns. Cortez had two live newspapers; the Dolores Star was also a live paper.
The Colorado Land and Improvement Company with three hundred stockholders was organized at Pueblo. They purchased more than a thousand acres of land and started the town of Lebanon putting the entire valley on the boom. Arriola was also started at the same time. H. F. Morgan opened a general store. A canning factory was built but never occupied. Lebanon still had their store. Lebanon erected a new hotel building, at that time the best hotel in the valley, and never large enough to take care of the trade. A new bank building was erected but a bank was never organized. Allen Hammond, Ben Porter, Sandy Garlinghouse, and S. H. Phlegar erected a three-story store building to be used for offices and a public hall. A new Methodist Church was erected, and dedicated by ex-Governor Buchtell.
In 1909, the old log school house stood where the Greenwood store now stands with sixteen children of school age going to school. A few years later the new building was erected, with over seventy-five children attending school, showing the increase in population. .
Lebanon boomed in the pageant of lifeS. H. Phelgar organized the Lebanon Telephone Company, with the exchange at Lebanon that was later moved to Dolores. At that time Dolores was handled from Lebanon, and there were more than two hundred subscribers in Dolores and Lebanon. A circuit was constructed from there to Monticello, Moab, and Bluff, Utah. Cortez at that time had its own phone system in town and was covering the lower valley, which was afterward connected with the present system.
The Mountain States Telephone System did not take over the system here until in the late 1920’s after local management had put on so many extras charges to make more money, whole neighborhoods had all phones taken out. At the present, July 1934, Dolores and Cortez exchanges combined have 260 subscribers in contrast to 200 subscribers which the Lebanon-Dolores had twenty-five years ago. No phones remain that are not strictly for business or to summon aid.
Lebanon in 1909 put on the biggest Fourth of July Celebration ever held in the Valley. Over 3,000 people attended. Special trains ran from Telluride and Durango, offering special rates for the celebration. The trains remained in Dolores all day and night. Sterle Thomas was sent to the reservations and brought up fifty Navajos and fifty Ute Indians for the occasion who put on war dances with all their robes, paint and feathers. Rube Smith of Denver and Roy Como put on the first public prizefight ever held in the Valley, and there was not breathing room in the big hall just completed. A dance followed, both up and down stairs. $1,700 dollars was paid out for horse races, bands, and other amusements. $100 dollars was left in the treasury when it was all over.
Thousands of dollars of advertising were spent by our people. The farmers were boosters as were everyone young and old. The farmers subscribed money for the Chambers of Commerce for advertising. They helped to furnish and arrange displays and exhibits of farm products to go to the State Fair, in apple shows held in Denver, and on to Chicago and Milwaukee, sending men with their exhibits and paying their expenses – all of which paid dividends.
Apples brought a big crop of awardsUncle George Clucas of Cortez, George Longenbaugh, Sandy Garlinghouse, A. W. Dillon and W. T. Bozman were among the leaders to gather and arrange for the exhibits sent out in those days. Harry Pyle Jack Bozman and H. F. Morgan could be found almost any time during the growing season with their wagons or buggies going from ranch to ranch and selecting grains and other samples for exhibits. In those days two or three cars of apples were sent to the Denver Apple Shows, which lasted for one week in the Auditorium, where they were in competition with apples from every section of American including Canada. We always got our share of the ribbons. Montezuma County had piles of attractive and well-written advertising matter for the exhibits. Thousands of people attended those shows from all over America.
Article from Anna Florence Robinson records, 1934. June Head is the Historian for the Montezuma County Historical Society and may be reached for comments, corrections or questions at 970-565-3880