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Hippies, Uranium and Prairie Dogs Oh My - My Hometown Nucla, Colorado

Updated on May 13, 2013

Welcome to Nucla, Colorado - Home of 1000 friendly people and 1 grouch (Population 707)

Nucla is a small town located in southwestern Colorado. It is about 100 miles from the Four Corners Monument, the junction of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. In fact Nucla is about a two hour drive from anywhere most people have heard of.

We are sixty miles from Telluride, and 100 miles from Grand Junction, Montrose and Cortez in their respective directions. Nucla, Naturita, Bedrock, and Paradox form what is known as "The West End" of Montrose County.Nucla is my hometown. The place I grew up. The place my family has lived for countless generations.

A few years ago, I was snooping around the Internet when I found a forum posting listing the worst places in Colorado to live, and one woman proclaimed Nucla as the winner. She and her husband had found a home for sale in Nucla, so they drove to town to look around. When they got here, they found people walking around with dazed looks on their faces. They felt sorry for us.

There is no need.

What she mistook for a dazed look could well have been happiness. Life in a small town takes some getting used to, but most of us wouldn't have it any other way.

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.

We weren't always this small though. When my youngest aunt graduated in 1980, there were 80 students. By 1992 when I graduated, there were 25. In 2010 we graduated 12.

Those of us who have been here through good and bad still remember what it was like to have several restaurants instead of just one. Nucla has HISTORY...

Nucla was originally founded as a utopian community, it was to offer cooperative communal living. The original experiment didn't work, but many of the people who live here today are descended from these first pioneers, including myself.

Then came the mining boom. During it's heyday this area of Colorado supplied much of the governments uranium for the first experiments with nuclear weapons. Then came the catastrophe in Chernobyl, and once again Nucla was in hibernation.

Finally in the 90's, Nucla caused controversy the world over when they hosted the first annual Top Dog" Prairie Dog Shoot. A competitive event that was quickly legislated and quietly shut down.

These three things have had a way of defining Nucla for its long term residents in ways those on the outside could never imagine. Nucla keeps coming back, no matter how many times hard times have hit us here, we have come through. We are a community of survivors. Newcomers don't always understand the impact these events had on our way of life, and most tourists aren't even aware of it, but anybody who calls Nucla home understands.

Living two hours from the nearest Safeway, Starbucks, or stoplight takes some getting used to there's no doubt about it. We chose to give up a lot when we made that decision, but the trade was worth it.

Nucla is a pretty laid back little town, not much to get excited about. It is is quiet, but most of us like it that way. It has it's drawbacks, but we all stick together as well. Whether it is a flat tire or a house fire, there is always someone there to lend a helping hand.

On the outside Nucla doesn't look like much, but to those of us who grew up here Nucla is our childhood, our family history, it is the one place we will always call home, no matter where we may wander. Nucla is many things to many people, but for me it is my roots. Roots that run deep.

What follows is the secret life of small town USA, so next time you visit any small town look a little deeper, you may be surprised at what you find!

Nucla (pronounced New-cluh) actually found it's beginnings in 1893, when ten people from Denver decided that they wanted to form a community that set aside competition and greed, this society would instead focus on "quality and service" the town was originally named "Pinon"

Together, they organized the Colorado Co-operative Company and set out to create the perfect Utopian community. The founders of this community originally planned to practice Henry George's single tax concept. There would be a tax on land only, all land would be owned as common property, rather than being individually held. There would be no tax on wages or interest. The organizers of the community issued 1000 shares of stock at a par value of $100. There was a limit of one share and one vote per person to ensure equality. The founding fathers organized their plan and then placed ads in "The Altrurian" explaining their goal.

In 1894 they settled at (TAB-watch) Tabeguache Park in southwestern Colorado. It was remote, and it was barren but it was beautiful. By 1900 Pinion had 50 buildings and over 200 members. Together the settlers undertook a massive communal project to irrigate over 20,000 acres of Colorado "desert" land. They began digging what is creatively known as "The Big Ditch," a fifteen-mile irrigation canal stretching from the river near Pinon to the site where my hometown is located today. The Big Ditch was completed in 1904. In 1919 the colonists moved the remaining buildings to the current site, and renamed the town Nucla. It was to serve as a "nucleus" to the surrounding community.

Before long the colony was no longer communal, and many people left to join a similar colony in Louisiana. What was left behind was a community of private citizens that owned the ditch, and cooperatively used the water supply. A town of people who still stick together today when it really counts. The old C.C. Ditch company building remains on Main street today, reminding us of where we came from.

Very little of Pinon remains today, a few lone buildings and a cemetery to remind us of the commitment those people made. Once, while researching my hometown online I came across a blogger who had visited us, he described this history as being founded by communist hippies. Sometimes, people just don't get it. Our founders wanted to build a community where "equality and service, rather than greed and competition, were the bases of conduct."

Many of us had family members that were among those original pioneers. You will find the family name of Gibbs at the site of the old Pinon cemetery. Their blood flows through my veins, and I have every reason to be proud of that fact. Those brave men and women moved to the middle of nowhere, for no other reason than they believed people should work together. To place the individual aside to do what was best for the majority.

To this day we retain the communal spirit that our town was founded upon. When a local family suffers tragedy the community reaction is inspiring. A home burns down, a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, or a car accident takes a life, the rally cry goes out and the community responds.

They bring food, clothing, furniture and money to a total stranger, because here nobody is really a total stranger.

Resources for this article: "A Colorado History," By Carl Ubbelohde, Duane A. Smith, Maxine Benson, "Modern American Communes," By Robert P. Sutton

Graphics Via Public Domain

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I'm gonna live... - A little music to set the tone...

A lot of people think the name Nucla was derived from the word Nuclear, but it wasn't. Nucla and nuclear were both just derived from the word nucleus. You can't fault them for making that connection though. If our first claim to fame was being one of the first hippie communes, our second turned around and slapped the hippies in the face. Our forgotten little area helped build the bomb.

Uranium is found at low levels in virtually all rock, soil, and water. Uranium is used in small quantities in the civilian sector, but the biggest market lies with military functions. Most of the material for the United States earliest experiments with uranium was mined right here where I grew up.

Most famous for its contribution to our nuclear legacy was the town of Uravan (a combination of the words uranium and vanadium) but you will find very little left of that town today. You can find its former location in the canyon a few miles west of Nucla. Mining was our areas bread and butter like much of Colorado. Uranium put food on our parents tables. Uranium was so much a part of our lives that our drive-in theater was named "The Uranium Drive-in."

Not everyone knew the full extent of the operations here, especially not the miners who worked with the material. Due to wartime secrecy, the use of the uranium was not fully disclosed until much later. All the miners and their families knew id that they were mining vanadium, which is used to harden metals.

My grandfather, along with just about every other grandfather in the area worked in those mines. The considered it their patriotic duty, and many of them sacrificed their health in the process.

Uranium is a part of our lives, even if it has nothing to do with us personally. My mother tells stories about walking to school with her hands in her pockets practicing for show and tell. In her right pocket, uranium, in her left pocket vanadium. Back then, health concerns did not exist, kids took uranium to school, women washed their husbands laundry right along with the babies diapers, and kids played with yellow cake in the streets.

There are still a lot of people around who can remember the days when uranium powered our community, but those days are long gone now. In the early 80's after several major nuclear accidents such as Chernobyl, uranium went bust. The town of Uravan went bust right along with it, it was found to be unsafe for living and began the long clean-up process that was not completed until 2008. Now when you drive by, you would never even guess a once thriving community was based there. Humans will likely never live on that land again.

We were uninformed about the health risks, and a lot of safety precautions that would be standard but the whole country was uninformed right along with us. We paid our price. Our area has lost many citizens to the many health conditions that come from being exposed to uranium. It is hard to find someone here who didn't lose someone to the effects of uranium mining.

I will always remember Uravan, I remember going to the community center, to the doctor, and many other buildings that are no longer there. I spent the bulk of my summers there. Every year when the weather warmed they would bus the kids from Nucla and Naturita to Uravan for swimming lessons. I looked forward to the long ride to "town." It was hot, and it was sticky. Crammed into a bus with twenty or so other kids. But it was something to be savored. Along with the ice cream bar from the snack bar that came much later.

Someday, they said, Nucla or Naturita would have a town swimming poll too. But it never happened. We didn't know then that the population was already in decline. That in our adult years Uravan would be only a memory. I learned to swim in a town that no longer exists. How is that for childhood ghosts? Now when you drive by, you would never even guess a once thriving community was based there. It's not even a ghost town, it's just... gone.

Uravan was a big part of Nucla life, and we all joked that we too were radioactive. There are long standing jokes about residents glowing in the dark, and rumors that we have a large number of birth deects but we don't. Someone from Union Carbide once corrected me when I joked about the radioactivity, explaining thatt it was "not radioactive but highly organic." I never understood what that meant. That Uravan was dangerous was no joke. Eventually they just pulled the plug on the whole town.

When the decision to shut operations down happened, I was still too young to realize what it really meant. That last night in those homes with my best friend Essie wasn't just another moving day. After that Uravan was no more. Little by little the town was leveled. The houses removed. The buildings torn down. Each year, as you drove by... just a little bit more was gone. The swimming pool become a settling pond. The land was reclaimed by nature.

Another page of history is gone, existing only in the minds of those who still remember. We still remember.

Nucla's next brush with fame came in the form of dead rodents.While being founded as a commune, and mining Uranium kept us going, it didn't exactly place us on the map. What did put us on the map, at least for a little while in the 1990 was the Top Dog Prairie Dog Shoot. To make a long story short, we invited hunters from all over the world to come help us with our rodent problem.

We needed fewer prairie dogs and we also needed more tourism, so why not hold a competition? Kind of like the original commune it was a sound idea at the time,translating that idea into practice was another thing entirely. The whole thing got blown way out of proportion the competitors came flying in, and right behind them animal rights activists.

Those of us who lived here at the time had never seen anything like it. We are small enough that when a stranger walks through town, we know about it. This time there was no way to not know about it. Strangers were everywhere. Some of them with rifles, and some of them with signs. Greenpeace had rallied the troops.

Things got heated a few times, with yelling matches between supporters and protesters. Major media outlets flew in. People were camped in every available corner. One animal rights activist waited for hunters to sight before running through the fields yelling at the prairie dogs to run. Threats were made.

People finally knew we existed. No matter how you felt about the event, excitement hung thick in the air. This was it! Locals had T-shirts printed up to commemorate the event. The mortuary made and tiny little prairie dog coffins. A chainsaw carving of a giant prairie dog was placed in the park.We stopped just short of declaring a prairie dog festival complete with prairie dog queen and attendants. This was our big shot, and we weren't going to waste it.

The media made a huge deal over it, then after the event they promptly forgot all about us. Nucla slipped back into obscurity. Very few papers covered the story a few years later when the Top Dog Prairie Dog shoot met it's demise. State legislators passed a law that prevented such competitions. They once again left us to be forgotten, because really, there's nothing interesting going on in a small town is there?

I'm not going to go into whether is was wrong or right for people to turn killing into a competitive sport. On that subject, like many others I really don't feel like having a strong opinion either way, I see both sides. What I will say is that when you live and work on the land, prairie dogs are nothing more than rodents. They are the farmer's version of rats. The media doesn't come swooping in on an apartment complex in the city because they hired an exterminator to take care of the rats. A rat is a rat, whether it lives in an apartment or a field. Most people here just thought of it as calling in the exterminators.

So laws were passed, the Top Dog Shoot faded into legend and Nucla faded into the background again. We all went back to our daily lives.

Brilliant reminders of days gone by are often overlooked by those who come to town for a day. The Uranium Drive-in Sign at one end of Main street. The Colorado Cooperative Company building at the other. In the middle, at the town park stands a lone sentry, a giant prairie dog.

None of it makes much sense if you don't know the history behind it. These landmarks gave hope to a community forgotten by the outside world but I hope nobody who lives here ever forgets what they mean for us. The need to survive has kept us going for more than a hundred years, and God willing, it will keep us going for another hundred years. This is the Nucla that started with survival, and survival keeps it going.

Now they are talking about reopening the uranium mines again, there is hope once again. They want to build a mill nearby. We just might get put back on the map if all goes right.

We started as pioneers, as people who were determined to not let the opinions of the outside world affect what we believed was right at the time. I guess when you look at it that way, a lot of us still fall back on our communal roots.

Those that drive through, or maybe even spend a day or two don't get it and we can't fault them for not seeing that. It takes less than a day to see our community. It takes a lifetime to understand the spirit that drives it. To appreciate what we really are. It takes more than a glimpse to appreciate the colorful characters that make up our community. The history that drives us.

We are the face of small towns everywhere. People who live a life many have forgotten how to live. In small townspeople work hard, and play harder. We still hunt and fish. We still eat what we kill. We still grow gardens in our backyard, and we don't call it a hobby. We still camp the old fashioned way, with a tent and a fire. We still know how to live off the land.

Okay, so we might have more than a few rednecks among our number, but they are some of the best people you will ever meet. And, redneck or not it today's tough economic climate it's a good thing some of us still know how to live the old fashioned way.

Country folk can survive

The Pinion Ridge Mill

The Revenge of the Uranium

First the uranium returned, (okay to be fair the uranium never left, it's always been here and will always be here.) But the industry revived. Mining is returning to the Nucla, Naturita, Paradox area... and it is getting mixed reviews.

The proposed Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill has divided residents near and far. Energy Fuels Inc. has requested a special use permit to process the uranium found in our area. It will be located 12 miles Uwest of Naturita in the Paradox Valley. For residents it could mean new life to a declining economy. It is said that it would create over 200 new jobs locally at the mill alone. That isn't counting the jobs it would bring as a secondary result, or what it could do for local businesses, housing, economy...

Opponents worry about the impact it will have on the environment. What impact the mines will have on water, wildlife, grazing, and of course the people who live here. I believe their concerns are justified. I also believe they can be handled constructively. Safety is an issue, but it is an issue that we have advanced a long way in handling.

Nobody even seems to know we exist in our little corner of the world until controversy arises. Most of the opponents to the mill don't come from our area, but from surrounding tourist resorts. From people who have jobs, who aren't worried about the future of our area but theirs. They have a future. We are just asking for the same opportunity. They have objected, they have screamed, they have filed lawsuits but the one thing that have failed to do is offer us a viable alternative.

The Radio Shack is gone, the grade school has been closed down, there isn't a local teen hang out anymore, we have one restaurant left. Our grocery store is the smaller than some convince stores. It is easy to pass judgement on others, but before you can truly judge another person you must first strive to understand why something is important to them. We still believe in Nucla or we wouldn't still be here.

I'm not thrilled about uranium mining, I'll be honest. I've seen too many families lose loved ones to the effects of long term mining. I've also looked at the risks and the rewards. I know that the town I grew up in no longer exists. Those of us who have roots here still remember the Nucla we lived in and loved. So many have left, and many more are leaving. We can't keep an economy going without something to feed it. I am an idealist, but I am also a realist.

If any of the opponents offered a way to bring 200 plus jobs to our area without uranium mining, I would back it with my full support... but they aren't. They are concerned with the environment, but that doesn't mean that supporters aren't. Opponents are concerned with their future but supporters are worried about their futures too. We are worried about the future of our community. Come up with an environmentally safe alternative that will bring us an equal number of jobs, or even better bring us a tourism draw and bring us even more stable jobs and we can let go of the mill. Until then...

Crushing the Uranium Mill also means crushing crush the first glimmer of hope our area has had since the early 90's. A hope that we will be able to find jobs, growth, and a place on the map again. Every person who is willing to take a job at the mill or the mines is already aware of the risks involved. They are willing to brave those risks to feed their families and keep our area alive. For them, the rewards far outweigh the risks.

If opponents want us to take a different route, now would be a good time to offer it. To show us a way to keep our economy alive without uranium. Instead of fighting us, work with us to find a safe and environmental alternative.

Instead of taking away opportunity, offer something better...

Yall come back now, ya hear!

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    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I read this lens and once again it moved me. We all have such interesting stories in our lives and considering I was brought up in a city of there are parallels I can identify with here.

      My family moved across from Scandinavia to Britain in the 11th century and in the 13th moved down to London. . My mother's side of the family were traveling people, my father's side were bargemen. We were one terraced house in a row of 120 and with 60 houses either side everyone knew each other. I watched people grow up there, get married and die. The support and community spirit in the street is something I have often missed.

      Your descriptions of growing up in Nucla and your relationship with the town reflects to me that same feeling of belonging in that small street encased in a city of 16 million. Thanks for this.

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 7 years ago

      Loved this whole lens from start to finish! Impacted most by "Yet, when someone said we were going home for the weekend, that always meant Nucla.", it really spoke to me about your roots to the town. Thanks for Squidooing and I am contacting BigJim about adding this lens to SCG ;)

    • profile image

      bengriston 7 years ago

      I lived in TRide for some time so it was fun to see a lens on Nucla. You should get some David Lavender books listed for the area as well.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      My Dad and his brothers are from the Nucla/Naturita area...my grandfather worked the Uravan Mine on the creek before WW2, and left after the big flood. And then they started farming in Nucla and raising cattle...their farm is where the coal company is now excavating coal. Vacation Bible School at that little Baptist Church up the hill in the summers, eating home cooked lunch in the preachers house next door, down in the basement. All of those childhood memories...swimming in Tab creek, where the deepest spot is where they damned the creek with some rocks, home made ice cream from fresh milk...

      Now where there was sagebrush and rocks, there are rolling fields of hay (like a golf course). I enjoyed the lens, keep writing...we are all part of where we came from.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Your website/blog is well done and a genuine read. The Top Dog Shoot is a simple, old-fashioned way to keep the prairie dog population in control. The activists in Telluride spent tens of thousands of dollars and didn't resolve "our" rodent issues. I only wish that money would have been made available to help save businesses or people in need. How about the activists who spent tax payers monies ($50 million), when then valley floor owner was only going to develop only 9 percent of the land. Now our town cannot afford much of anything. Your "uranium" dilemma is understandable. You want the jobs. Need the jobs. But no one should be put at risk to get sick or die. That's real. The uranium usage is also in question. I'd ask the activists to put their energy into creating giant wind or solar farms. Certainly, one the the activists has the celebrity $$$ to do so. Good luck.

    • silverhusky lm profile image

      silverhusky lm 7 years ago

      This is an awesome lens. I loved your story and it felt like i was reading a book, I really enjoyed it. I love how history rich the littlest, smallest, most unpopulated towns can be. I have to agree with Kathleen, the tree huggers should of stopped complaining about the uranium and the animals and instead spend the money they used griping about people who hurt the environment to build windmills. Not only would that be a nice clean alternative energy source it would also bring jobs into the area. Really nice lens, 5 stars from me.

      P.S. If you don't mind, I would love to feature your story on my Community Project lens. You can check it out at www.squidoo.com/locals-know-best. If it is okay for me to feature you just leave a comment in the guestbook :P.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      I doubt that anyone is old enough to answer this question but what I'm looking for is information on the old HILL ranch between Nucla and Ute. I spent every summer there a child but don't know what road it was on. It was about 10 miles from Nucla on an unpaved road. It sold in the 1950s. I loved that place and would like to drive up that road. I just can't figure out which one it is. I an happy to have found this site. I did not know the history.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I want to live in Nucla. Watch for me!

    • ayngel boshemia profile image
      Author

      Ayngel Overson 6 years ago from Crestone, Co

      @anonymous: I've asked around but nobody is quite sure. However, I do know where Ute is, so if you ever make it back this way perhaps we can figure it out?

    • ayngel boshemia profile image
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      Ayngel Overson 6 years ago from Crestone, Co

      @anonymous: Will do!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: I think the place you are speaking of we call "the Hill Place". It's owned by the Weimer's... the family are early pioneers of this area. It is a beautiful place.... it's on Hwy 90 (still a dirt road). Hope this helps :)

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      @ayngel boshemia: Hi boshemia,

      I really liked your article. Do you know where the Uranium Drive-In sign is now? I heard it was moved. Thanks! suzan

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Hi boshemia,

      I really liked your article. Do you know where the Uranium Drive-In sign is now? I heard it was moved. Thanks! suzan

    • ayngel boshemia profile image
      Author

      Ayngel Overson 6 years ago from Crestone, Co

      @anonymous: Yes. The sign has been moved to the highway to Nucla, where Hilltop used to be. They tore Hilltop down though. Pete Franks owns it I believe.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @ayngel boshemia: I heard that Pete sold it to the town of Naturita and that it is no longer up at Hilltop. I have some feelers out, but if you hear anything would love to know!

      Thanks! Suzan

    • irregularworld profile image

      irregularworld 6 years ago

      Interesting article about a fascinating place. Thanks. Hope you can find some of the peace of the local setting again, without so much of the conflict.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      This is great stuff. I am from Norwood, residing temporarily in Nucla and am a frequent uranium country hiker/biker/kayaker/camper. I know that Nucla is a long depressed area and I have watched it decline even more over the past few years. It makes me sad to see the Pinion Ridge Mill is the area's only glimmer of hope. Nucla has so much more potential to be a grand place. Just look at the food growing capability. The endless irrigation. This place can be another Palisade rather than a hay grower for an over-saturated beef industry. I just don't see mining what's left of low grade exploited resources an answer to Nucla's woes. It's just shortsighted. And it wont last. I have friends that are residents here in Nucla that are on both sides of the issue. I am absolutely against bringing the uranium industry back in. Large scale food production would be an alternative. A brewery that uses locally grown malt, hops, and yeast. Wineries. And great mountain bike tourism potential is in this area. Imagination not exploitation! -Jerrod

    • ayngel boshemia profile image
      Author

      Ayngel Overson 6 years ago from Crestone, Co

      @anonymous: That's a very constructive solution to the problem at hand. It isn't our only glimmer, but it is a glimmer for sure. I do thank you for a well thought out and rational opposition. I would love to see Nucla boom again... but I would like for it to be a boom that lasts and sustains itself.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I love your writing style ... very warm and welcoming. I live in central Utah and would like to visit your little town sometime soon. Can you give the name of a local Bed and Breakfast?

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Just want to say I really enjoyed reading some background to your town of Nucla. I recently had the pleasure of sharing lunch at the 5th Ave Grill with many locals, and then heading up to Columbine Pass to see the fall color. A wonderful and out-of-the-way part of the country, and in many ways the highlight of my trip. You can see a couple of photos on my Flickr stream. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/claustral/5131834206/ )

    • ayngel boshemia profile image
      Author

      Ayngel Overson 6 years ago from Crestone, Co

      @anonymous: I believe that the one in Naturita is the Blake House... http://www.merchantcircle.com/business/Blake.House...

    • ayngel boshemia profile image
      Author

      Ayngel Overson 6 years ago from Crestone, Co

      @anonymous: Thank you so much for your wonderful photographs. Would you mind if I added them to this lens?

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great story, my wife and I left Naturita in 1996 but still have friends and relatives living there. We loved it there but a real tough place to make a living, the country is really great and having so much public land around you was wonderful. I always said that you could tell the difference of the people living there by their definition of the words secluded and isolated, if you were secluded you loved it there, if you were isolated you hated it, we felt that we were secluded. I also believed that the area was tough on women and pickups.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I use to live in Nucla between 1962-1966, my relatives lived there for many years. My Aunt was the town clerk and my uncle worked the mines. My mother and grandparents and Aunt and Uncle are buried there. Cousin moved to Arizona so now we don't make it over there anymore. Its sad , I always wanted to move into my grandparents home but the jobs wasn't there. But Nucla will always be my hometown maybe one of these days we will go fishing again there.

    • glenbrook profile image

      glenbrook 6 years ago

      Great lens. I grew up in a small town (not as small as Nucla though) and really miss it. Most people would disagree, but I think there are lots more interesting things to do in a small town than in a city.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Your hometown is perfect to for people who want to live where there's only over 55 communities. Great lens!

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      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Great lens - I've only been to Colorado once, and spent much of my time in the Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs area, but absolutely loved that time. I want to go back and visit again someday!

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      wayne_luvinlife 5 years ago

      I'm from a small community in Ms, that at the time of my birth people thought it to would grow, so I completely understand the struggles of a small town. And I believe in the values and eary life lessons that can come from a closely knit community and the joy it can bring. They stay with a person for a lifetime and can sometimes be hard to share with those who didn't experience it, but that doesn't make the lessons any less profound. Thank you so much for sharing this...memories are sometimes all we have left and all we will take with us!

      Shine On!

      Wayne

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      grannysage 5 years ago

      I love learning the history of little towns. My little town in the UP of Michigan once had 7 saloons and "gang" problems. It was a mining town too, only they mined copper. I am so glad you have kept the spirit of your little community alive.

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      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      I read every word, Ayngel.. I was born in a mining town in northern Manitoba. When I was 4 years old my father moved us to a little town in British Columbia where, as he put it, we could pick fruit off of the trees. I loved this little town because of the people in it. As you said everyone came to the aid of those having problems, big and small. I grew up and left there, as so many young ones did, in order to get an better education and a job. Later on in life I moved back to that little town to raise my daughter. I wanted her to have the same experience that I had. She now has a similar love for that small town.

      I want to give this lens my SquidAngel blessing.

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      VillaDejaBlue 5 years ago

      Nice lens.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great story on our hometown. I also had the pleasure of growing up in Nucla. I do not live there now, but it will always be "home". I still have family and dear friends that live there. It was a great place to grow up and learn life's lessons. It is definitely a different world compared to the cities. My Dad drove coal truck in that community for many years. I have learned through the years and my travels, that there are very few places I have seen that have the "community" feel such as that found in our little corner of the world. I have been to many places and met many people, none kinder, nicer, and more caring than the people from the "West End".

      As for the "outsiders" input on the mining, there is another song that needs to be heard by them before they judge...something along the lines of "walk a mile in my shoes". It is easy for someone from the "outside" to chime in and give their opinions, but they need to live life as we did. They need to leave their BMW's and mansions behind, go out and hunt for dinner, cut firewood for warmth, swim in the creeks, fish in the lakes, get to know Nucla and it's people as we know them, and enjoy what we call "life". Then, and only then, will I take any credence in their opinions.

      I am all for the Uranium mines, or any other mining for that matter. With the technology we have today, we have the ability to provide jobs as well as a safe work environment. We have far to many people willing to work and provide for their families. So, in my opinion, let us work. Or perhaps the "opposers" could provide a salary to each of the people you are keeping jobs from.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great story on our hometown. I also had the pleasure of growing up in Nucla. I do not live there now, but it will always be "home". I still have family and dear friends that live there. It was a great place to grow up and learn life's lessons. It is definitely a different world compared to the cities. My Dad drove coal truck in that community for many years. I have learned through the years and my travels, that there are very few places I have seen that have the "community" feel such as that found in our little corner of the world. I have been to many places and met many people, none kinder, nicer, and more caring than the people from the "West End".

      As for the "outsiders" input on the mining, there is another song that needs to be heard by them before they judge...something along the lines of "walk a mile in my shoes". It is easy for someone from the "outside" to chime in and give their opinions, but they need to live life as we did. They need to leave their BMW's and mansions behind, go out and hunt for dinner, cut firewood for warmth, swim in the creeks, fish in the lakes, get to know Nucla and it's people as we know them, and enjoy what we call "life". Then, and only then, will I take any credence in their opinions.

      I am all for the Uranium mines, or any other mining for that matter. With the technology we have today, we have the ability to provide jobs as well as a safe work environment. We have far to many people willing to work and provide for their families. So, in my opinion, let us work. Or perhaps the "opposers" could provide a salary to each of the people you are keeping jobs from.

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      Ayngel Overson 5 years ago from Crestone, Co

      @anonymous: I hope that they can see that too...

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I loved reading this, it brought back so very many memeories. I lived in Uravan in G13 and my father was chief mining engineer for Union Carbide there. After attending school in Uravan through 8th grade, I rode the bus up to Nucla for high school. It was a far different life in those days and in those places, than anybody knows today. Only those of us who lived it would understand it. Thank you for writing this! Maybe we won't really be forgotten afterall.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      @ayngel boshemia: Sorry for the hugely late reply - but you are very welcome to use the photos for non-commercial purposes.

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      BoulderBroker 5 years ago

      Never heard of Nucla, but your lens makes me want to see it someday. Might be quite a drive from Boulder, but looks like it would be worth the trip!

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      miaponzo 5 years ago

      Thank you for introducing me to your little place! Blessed!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I lived in Nucla with my family in 1957 and attended 3rd grade. My mom and dad worked in a restaurant/bar called El Comodore. I think the restaurant was owned by a family named Fagan. The biggest claim to fame of the town at that time was a great high school football player named Bill Symons, who later played for the University of Colorado and Canadian pro football teams. He was nicknamed the "Nucla Nugget".

      I had a lot of fun in Nucla, including a lot of nights spent at the Uranium Drive In.

      My dad got the urge to move to Boulder and I have spent my life there and in Fort Collins. I was very excited when Nucla had the prairie dog shoots and was going to attend one, but then pressure from more "sophisticated" people in the state got the festival permanently cancelled. I have never made it back to Nucla, but I am planning to visit this summer.

      Keep up the good work and thanks for being proud of Nucla,

      John Thomas

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Julia, I, too, have fond memories of Uravan. I also lived in G block. I even remember the dog your family had. Funny how we remember such mundane things. Life has certainly changed a lot since we left Uravan in 1962.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I visited Nucla in 1990 or thereabouts, and I think I "got it", because to this day my memories of the landscape, and the feeling of the place remains with me; I've always wanted to return. The combination of pure, quiet openness, rivers, canyons, hills, flats, ranches, wilderness, wildness really put a spell on me. I hope it is still as beautiful as I remember.

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      jayna-sheats 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I don't know if you are still seeing any posts to this blog; I just happened to run into it for various random reasons. As Paula says, the Hill Ranch belongs to the Weimers, who still live in Nucla. It is more than 10 miles from Nucla; Ute (where I grew up) is 22 miles up Colorado 90, and the Hill place was 6 miles from us (toward Nucla). It is named for Charlie Hill. You can find it with Google Maps: look for 44158 Colorado 90, Nucla Colorado, and go up the highway (that would be to the lower right on the map) about 1000 yards; you will see a driveway to the left and some buildings at the end. That is the place.

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      jayna-sheats 4 years ago

      To the owner:

      I have a genealogy (about 80 pages) of the Sheats and Hill families (the Hill of the "Hill Place") which has quite a few bits of history relevant to Nucla in general. I could send it to you if you are interested.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I worked in Nucla in1994 as part of the UMTRA remediation. Specifically, at the elementary school. I loved the area, it's remoteness and the people were truly genuine. Good memories.

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      Ayngel Overson 4 years ago from Crestone, Co

      @jayna-sheats: That would be awesome!

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      Ayngel Overson 4 years ago from Crestone, Co

      @anonymous: It is still as beautiful as ever, though probably more quiet than you remember.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      John

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hello! My grandmother was from Nucla, and great-grandparents as well. They are all buried at Nucla Cemetery, and I have felt a need to visit for 2 years now. I like to know how the Garber family came to live there, and what influences they had in the development of the area.Thank you.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      So if you graduated in 92 we would have been in the same classes/grade. I lived there from 73 until 85ish...my folks were both teachers. Betty and Jack.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      So if you graduated in 92 we would have been in the same classes/grade. I lived there from 73 until 85ish...my folks were both teachers. Betty and Jack.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      hi, i stumbled upon your site while checking the weather in nucla! i live in kodiak alaska but was born there and lived until age 7, when we moved to alaska (1965). i've always wanted to go back, as i have childlike idyllic memories of my life there. yes we were very poor because we had 6 kids in our family and my father worked at the mines, but i remember the small town, kindergarten and first grade there (my teacher ms. strange wrote me letters for years after we moved), the hawkins family, the stone family, the little store and the drive in, and the cemetery. stories about nucla and the yellow rock cafe (was this in uravan i wonder) filled my world for years after we moved north. i've never been back but i would like to, so like i said finding your blog was very satisfying to read. thank you!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I had an uncle Raymond Rose who was living there....anyone out there know of him or his wife Mary?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I know Mary Rose. She lives in Nucla, and her daughter Mary lives in Durango

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Exciting news.......I never knew my uncle Raymond Rose. My dad was his younger brother Elmer Rose. Do you talk to Mary Rose? Please tell here Elmer's daughter, Marla Rose, says HI! I also have a brother in Denver and his daughter's name is "MARY ROSE"!!!! My mothers name was also Mary Rose...so that makes at least three in the same "ROSE" family!

      Do you know anything about my uncle Raymond?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I think you all have talent writing down all these memories and history.....I think Garrison Keeler has nothing on you folks from Nucla! Some one ought to be writing to Reader Digest and making some $$ on these stories.

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      Dianna34 15 months ago

      I originally asked for information on the Hill ranch and it's been a long time since I checked back, and I thank Jayna Sheats and others for their help. We are going to visit this year and I now know where to find the old ranch site. I spent every summer there until my father, who thought of the Hills as a second family, died. Charlie and Essie Hill were wonderful people and my times there were the happiest days of my childhood. I remember the Sheats home with very fond memories as well. I also stayed with a family named Rice in Nucla. Also happy times. Thanks again for comments. Looking forward to a visit.

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      grjofstl 10 months ago

      I am the grandson of Charlie and Essie Hill and have a lot of memories of the Hill ranch. Perhaps I have connected with some of you before. Also, I am the compiler of a genealogy of the Hill and Sheats families which contains some historical information about the Hill ranch. If there is a way to connect, please let me know.

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