The Last Druggist in Nucla, CO
September 22, 2011 12:04 PM   Subscribe

Located 100 miles south of Grand Junction, Colorado, at the end of Highway 97 is a small community of Nucla. There is one remaining pharmacy, the Apothecary Shoppe, where you can find Don Colcord, the town druggist, the closest this town has to a doctor. He's also the bowling league president (and he certifies the lanes annually), announcer for Nucla High football games, and he has his pyrotechnics-display license for the local fireworks on the Fourth of July.

If you're looking for more information about Nucla, here is a description of the town and its history from a resident, who starts off with a fun quip:
Though the sign at the city limits still welcomes you to "Nucla: Home of 1000 friendly people and one grouch," there are now less than 1400 souls living in Nucla and her sister town Naturita combined. And there isn't a whole lot of debate left about who the one grouch really is.
You can also read the community newspaper, the San Miguel Basin Forum, which appears to have a Facebook page, and random issues online on Google's news archives. View by decade to see the extent of these collections.
posted by filthy light thief (14 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Nicked from gaspode on MetaChat.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:07 PM on September 22, 2011

(and to complete the circle back here, I got it from jim in austin via g+)
posted by gaspode at 12:11 PM on September 22, 2011

That was a really nice article. Thanks so much for posting it. :)
posted by zarq at 12:21 PM on September 22, 2011

Wow, that sounds like a town from a Lake Wobegone story.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 12:23 PM on September 22, 2011

Heh. My sister was the minister in the UCC church there for several years. I visited her once. That was enough.
posted by Uncle Grumpy at 12:27 PM on September 22, 2011 I'm curious about the history of this "...and one grouch" thing. That exact thing is apparently a "thing" in a number of other small towns as well. I know it from Kettle Falls, WA. It's on the sign, they elect a town grouch every year at their fair, etc.
posted by madmethods at 12:30 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, it showed up in my rss feed this morning and I was hooked after a paragraph. Not the sort of thing I normally post on G+ but I though it was exceptional. And I have 40+ MeFites in a circle so I'm not surprised it made its way over here...
posted by jim in austin at 12:34 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

There is some pretty amazing rock climbing right outside of nucla. It is also on the way to moab if you are coming from telluride. Strange little town- not much there, except an awful speed trap with a cop that likes to pull people over.
posted by TheBones at 12:43 PM on September 22, 2011

That was a great article, thanks for posting. This line "[H]e has spent all of his sixty years in Colorado, where community-minded individuals often develop some qualities that may seem contradictory" made me laugh.
posted by iminurmefi at 1:04 PM on September 22, 2011

Really enjoyed the article. The author seemed to have spent a lot of time in the community and with Don. Was that all for the story?

The Google Maps Street View also threw me for a loop. I was picturing a small town with brick buildings and trees and less of a steel roof prefab look.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:31 PM on September 22, 2011

Whoo! Nucla! I grew up in Grand Junction, and we would always feel sad for the kids from Nucla when we would see them at choir competitions or track meets. I mean, in GJ, we had several grocery stores to choose from, and a mall! What did those kids have?

But, now I think Nucla is a pretty neat little town, despite its declining population, and Water Days (mentioned in the article) is a nice small-town festival (not mentioned here is that during Water Days, they turn on the town water hoses and spray everyone with water, up and down the main street). Nearby, if you ever find yourself in that part of southwestern Colorado (seriously one of the most isolated and barely visited parts of the state, despite its proximity to places like Telluride), you can also visit Uravan, where Don Colcord was born -- a company town for uranium and vanadium, which was eventually torn down and destroyed due to both the collapse of the market for uranium and the fact that the town was surrounded by radioactive mill tailings.
posted by heurtebise at 4:26 PM on September 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

Whoo! Nucla! I grew up in Grand Junction, and we would always feel sad for the kids from Nucla when we would see them at choir competitions or track meets.

I'm from GJ originally too!

*throws mill tailings in the air like confetti*
posted by vorpal bunny at 5:30 PM on September 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

My small town is not near as small as Nucla, but I recognize all the things I love about home in this article. I can't wait until I can finally move back. It will be shock to my system after NYC but I think the good kind of shock will far outweigh the bad.
posted by double bubble at 5:26 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is a truly amazing story, and a very ordinary story, as well. A novelist would not invent such a story, because of the "truth is stranger than fiction" maxim. Very well written. My high school students will read it. They read too much fiction.
posted by kozad at 8:17 PM on September 23, 2011

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