J. A. Merriam Drug Store

The South Park City drug store was originally a pioneer feed store in the town of Alma. It was moved to become the J.A. Merriam Drug Store in the late 1950’s and has a fascinating story to tell. It starts with a basement store-room in the old silver town of Westcliffe, Colorado. In this basement the 1880 druggist, J.A. Merriam, would store obsolete drugs, signs, and all kinds of paraphernalia used in the drug business. He did not like to throw anything away because of his extreme feeling for thrift. It is said he would cut peppermint pellet candies in half to get the exact weight for a nickel’s worth. His packrat ways continued until the Merriam family quit the drug business. In the years that followed the basement remained the same; never cleaned out; filled with these precious articles.

In 1958 Mr. Snyder was informed by a friend of this historical treasure. Without hesitation he bought everything and donated it to South Park City. Mr. Snyder, his three sisters and a nephew spent every weekend all summer packing and sorting the hundreds of pharmaceuticals. Another ten days was spent washing and dusting the thousands of items. One can imagine what it was like as the Snyders examined each memento and discussed it among themselves.

This was a fabulous find and today the J.A. Merriam Drug Store of South Park City displays the most complete line of 1880 drugs, patent medicines and early day notions of any exhibit in Colorado and possibly in the United States. With the exception of the soda fountain, the drug store is set up similar to the original drug store established in Westcliffe in 1880.