Animas City Colorado
Photograph of Animas City taken in 1897 by Whitman Cross, a member of the USGS Survey team. Catalog number: 03.37.3
In 1876, as Colorado was celebrating statehood, a community was founded along the banks of the Animas River. On August 26, a group of enterprisig settlers formed the Animas City Townsite Company and purchased the land from John Fowler. Among the articles drawn up by the Company was Article I; “to lay out, found and to occupy as a townsite, situated on the east and west banks for the Animas River. Extending north where the Animas Valley widens, and south near where Junction Creek enters said river. State of Colorado, County of La Plata.”
With agricultural roots, the town thrived. Before long Animas City had a school, a general store, several saloons, a pool hall a doctor and a hotel. Unfortunately the railroad’s arrival in Durango, some two miles to the south, in 1881 caused Animas City’s fortunes to dim. On October 28, 1847 voters approved the resolution annexing Animas City to Durango. The annexation became official on January 1, 1948.
The W.T. Chitwood family lived on a ranch on the east side of the river in the Animas Valley. Their son Andy recalled the Animas City of his childhood (1876-1880) and drew the map above in 1940. When the map was published by the Sarah Platt Decker Chapter NSDAR in “Pioneers of the San Juan Country” he regretted that he did not use more care in spacing streets and placing the buildings. He needn’t have worried. His map is a treasure of information about the earliest days of Animas City.
The original location of the Joy Cabin is number 29 on the Chitwood map, on the corner of Main St. and 3rd St. The "Joy Ranch" location noted on the map is probably not accurate, it was actually further south.