towns and railroads - key components to successful logging businesses. Opportunities for both prestige and profit inspired each man to incorporate railroads separate from their logging companies. There was money to be made from more than hauling lumber, and being a railroad official brought with it a special status in the community.
Their railroads brought civilization into an area that had been bypassed by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. In October 1900 Sullenberger's Rio Grande, Pagosa and Northern Railroad provided Pagosa Springs with a long-anticipated connection to the outside world. Of Sullenberger the Pagosa Springs News wrote, "To him the people of Archuleta will be forever grateful for taking them out of the wilderness and into civilization." The people of the county, however, would not always hold such a high opinion of the lumber barons, including the once-glorified Sullenberger.
Along with their business activities, Biggs and Sullenberger became involved in politics. In the controversial election of 1899, Biggs was elected county commissioner, and from that point on, the sawmill interests kept a firm hold on political decisions. For years the lumbermen manipulated the system in order to avoid high taxes on their businesses. Biggs, convicted in 1899 of cutting timber without a permit, was even able to use his influence to obtain a pardon from President McKinley.
That conviction would not be the last time Biggs would end up in court. He and Sullenberger both were charged with defrauding the government. They were accused of hiring people to file claims for land under the Homestead Act, then turn the land over to the lumber companies. The two also were involved in some shady dealings with the D&RG Railroad, whose government charter allowed them to cut timber for ties and other building needs up to three miles from their right-of-way. However, D & RG officials interpreted this loosely and, along with the lumbermen, cleared vast amounts of government timber from land far beyond the reaches of its right-of-way. The cases would spend years in court, one in particular eventually making its way to a grand jury. But in the end, Biggs and Sullenberger were acquitted on a technicality.