Colorado's Western Edge
Nucla is located at 5823 feet above sea level at the base of the Uncompahgre Plateau and the San Miguel Basin. In 1894 a ditch company called the Colorado Cooperative Company organized a colony of it’s members to build a 17 mile ditch to bring water from its head gate in the San Miguel Canyon northeast of Norwood to the head of the Tabequache plateau. The name Tabequache is an Indian word meaning “The Sunny Side’. The ditch reached completion in late 1904. The new town site, Nucla, was staked out on a little flat in Tabequache Park. The colonists not wanting to waste an acre of good farm land, situated the town site on a rocky hill unfit for farming. C.U. Williams, a member of the Company, proposed the name “Nucla” for the new town, he and many of colonists believing that it would become the nucleus of the area. The arrival of water to the Tabequache plateau was the beginning of farming and ranching that continues today.
Naturita is located at 5431 feet above sea level on the San Miguel River 5 miles south of Nucla. In 1881, a man named Payson built the first cabin in Naturita. The following year Rockwood H. Blake built an adobe house in the east end of present town. The primary source of income due to the remoteness from a railroad was cattle. Cattle could be driven to railheads in Montrose or Placerville on the hoof. The cowboys driving cattle to Montrose would follow a trail over the Uncompahgre Plateau now taken by Highway 90. In 1900 Naturita was primarily a stopping-off place for freight wagons transporting copper ore from the Cashin Mine near Bedrock to the railroad in Placerville. Mrs. Rockwell Blake named Naturita, which means “Little Nature” in Spanish. Mrs. Blake designated the place with this unusual name because of it’s beautiful setting beside the river, which contrasted sharply with the surrounding barren country.
Near the center of the valley is the town of Bedrock. The town was established in 1883. The Bedrock Post Office opened on November 8, 1883. The town’s general store and post office were built on solid rock, hence the name. Bedrock is also the name of the fictional town setting of the Flintstones animated television series.
The dry, sparsely populated valley is named after apparently paradoxical course of the Dolores River. Colorado State Highway 80 follows Paradox Valley on its way to Naturita to Utah State line, crossing the historic Dolores River Bridge near the small town of Bedrock. The town of Paradox lies a few miles north of the highway. Paradox is located 5,000ft at the Dolores River to nearly 6,000ft at the southeast end. Steep sandstone and shale walls bound the valley to the northeast and southwest. The valley was named in 1875 by geologist and surveyor Albert Charles Peale after he noted that the Dolores River had a “desire to perform strange and unexpected things” in the area. Instead of flowing down the valley, the river emerges from a narrow gap in one wall, cuts perpendicularly across the middle, and exits through another gap. As a consequence of this unusual geography, the valley cannot be easily irrigated by the Dolores River, but springs and streams fed by snow melt from La Sal Range support farming in the valley.
The Redlands Townsite Company was incorporated on August 31, 1907. The Post Office prohibited the use of the name Redlands as it was already used in 1909. The name was changed to Redvale. The official plat was recorded in 1912 dedicating one block to a park. The park and building have seen many dinners, town meetings and dances and is maintained by the residents of Redvale and the surrounding area. In early years there was a hotel, general store, church and Post Office. Redvale was a frequent stopping place for travelers, ranchers, and freight wagons hauling copper and uranium ore from Paradox Valley to railhead in Placeville.