Nucla sits at the south end of the Uncompahgre Plateau, on a mesa called Tabegauche Park, a level grassland area, about 400 feet higher than the gorge of the San Miguel River which passes by on the south and the west. It is a beautiful grassland area with trees on the slopes above it, and deep gullies cutting into it. These gullies divide it into three parts, called First Park, Second Park and Third Park, from south to north. Nucla is in First Park.
In 1894 a group of idealists, wanting to free themselves of greed and competition, formed the Colorado Cooperative Company and came to Tabegauche Park to establish a utopian community. In 1904 they completed a canal bring water in for irrigation, and Nucla was settled immediately thereafter. The name Nucla was chosen because it would be a “nucleus“ to the surrounding farms. After uranium mining and processing took hold in the area, the name also became associated with "nuclear" energy. The town practiced a communal economy until 1909, when they reverted to private ownership of their farms.
Nucla is a close pair with Naturita, which is situated right on the banks of the San Miguel River, about five miles to the south. The two towns are isolated in a rugged country in western Colorado, with high mesas carved up by deep cliff-lined canyons. The Tabeguache Plateau, (said tab-e-watch), extends fifty miles to the north, with elevations above 9,000 feet, a beautiful forested alpine area. Colorado Highway 97 connects Nucla to Naturita, and State Highway 141 connects the two to Dove Creek, far to the south, and Grand Junction, equally far to the north.
For More Information:
Read a historic marker about the Colorado Cooperative Company. The Nucla Naturita Area Chamber of Commerce maintains the site nucla-naturita.com. See also Wikipedia's Nucla article.