By Dominic Garcia
IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– The Argo Tunnel and Mill has been the focal point of Idaho Springs for more than 100 years and its new owners want to not only preserve it, but develop some of the land around it.
“This is truly a national treasure that people don’t know about,” said Mary Jane Loevlie, one of the facility’s owners.
For years, the Argo has been offering tours. Patrons can explore the tunnel and mill and pan for gold like miners did in the 1800s. But, at 124 years old, the Argo is starting to show its age.
“We’ve got windows that are falling out, metal sheets that are falling off. There are little pieces here we need to worry about, “said Loevlie.
Loevlie grew up in Idaho Springs and is part of a group of locals who bought the facility, along with Denver developer Dana Crawford. Just this year they received a grant from The History Colorado State Historical Fund.
PHOTO GALLERY: Argo Gold Mine & Mill
The mine is expected to get $15,000 which they will use to address structural issues to make sure tourists are safe. What will happen to the Argo after that is ambitious to say the least. Loevlie says they have big plans for the area.
“This valley needs a hotel, it desperately needs housing, and we need to showcase forever the iconic nature of this mill,” Loevlie told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.
In their vision plan the hotel will have a conference center and adventure cabins. There will also be housing units, a greenway bike path, even a brewery/restaurant.
The hope is to preserve the old west charm of the Argo but give people even more reasons to pull off Interstate 70 for a visit… something the majority of people who drive by aren’t doing right now.
“I’d almost say 80 percent of the people that come here have always seen this red building on their way by. We call them whizz-bys.”
Mary Jane knows how special the Argo is, and wants all those whizz-bys to see it too.