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“Lots of history and a bit of fun”

Argo Gold Mill and Tunnel
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ARGO Mill Tour
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Come visit one of the regions most amazing historic mining sites, the Mighty ARGO Mill. Our tour includes a visit to our history room to view a video describing the history of the ARGO Tunnel and Mill, a view into the ARGO TUNNEL, a descent through our historic 5 story ore mill, a visit in the historical artifact museum at the base of the ARGO Mill, and a chance to find real gold as we offer you a gold panning lesson!
Chester, Virginia
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Lots of history and a bit of fun”
Reviewed July 26, 2013

This is not really a mine tour but rather a mill tour with mining history thrown in. The presentation by our guide gave a good explanation of the difference between placer mining and hard-rock mining. He also gave an interesting explanation of why the tunnel and mill stopped being used. After the film presentation (using artifacts and dioramas from the museum at the Visitor's Center in town), we went outside and got the chance to operate one of the pneumatic drills like the later miners were using (like a horizontal jack hammer). Then after a short bus ride to the top of the tailings pile (this is the largest tailings pile in the world and due to the historic places registry will never be moved), we started the self-guided tour.

They have a lot of old junk laying around the site, including two statues of big-horn sheep. When we were there, we saw a live big-horn laying down between the other two (our guide said that he probably thinks the statues are his parents so he feels safe there.

The end of the tunnel was all that you could see (along with the nasty water running out of it being diverted to the treatment plant), but it does give some idea of how crazy a miner would have to be to go 4 miles into the mountain through this tiny tunnel.

From there we worked our way down through the mill. There were several places where I have to question the safety of allowing crowds to walk (narrow and steep steps with uneven treads, loose floorboards, rusted bottom in the floatation tank, etc.). Maybe this is just part of the thrill, but I kept wondering when we would fall through the floor.

At the end of the tour, we got to pan our ore "sample" to find the gold. They were clear that they put the gold in there, and they pressed the nuggets flat to make them easier to find.

If you take kids, make sure their tetanus shots are up-to-date because there is a lot of rusty metal laying around, and much of it looked pretty sharp.

Visited July 2013
1 Thank JuniorByrdmann
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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282 reviews from our community

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English first
Storrs, Connecticut, United States
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Interactive, Informative, Would Return!”
Reviewed July 25, 2013

As my husband's and my first foray into the gold mining experience I wasn't sure what to expect! We found it easily enough in this beautiful small town. Our guide Tara was very knowledgable, engaging, and informative. Know that school groups may be in attendance as they were with us but during our tour at least they were some of the most well-behaved kids I had ever seen! Also do bring water, but don't bring a backpack.

We watched a short video about the history of the place and could ask questions about mining. I found it very interesting that mining is now so regulated and difficult that even though it's thought that tons of gold still lay in the mountains it may never be reached. After that, we took a short bus ride up to the top where we started at the entrance of an old mine. You can borrow a hard hat if you so desire! It was a short walk that did not drop much in elevation. Thank goodness for electricity lighting our way.

Next we walked around and saw the entrance to the Argo Tunnel and the large building where they would extract the gold with several machines. While it may be a little lackluster to some I had a wonderful time and my husband, who is usually terrific with heights, was a little nervous at the steepness/narrowness of the stairs. Be careful!

My favorite part was mining for the gold upon our return. Your ticket pays for your self-guided tour as well as a small packet of ore guaranteed to have gold inside. The guide was very patient with us showing us a couple times how to mine it and we were so excited when gold pieces appeared! We also panned for gemstones which is much easier and probably more fun for kids - and adults like me - who love instant gratification! We liked it here very much and if we are in the area again we would definitely try the panning again!

Visited July 2013
Thank Sabrina H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Waco, Texas
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviewed July 14, 2013

Had a nice time, basically a self guided tour, there was a class beforehand and was informative. Panned for gold and although we did not get rich, lol, it was fun to find some gold.

Visited July 2013
Thank sharona1962
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Wasn't what expected.”
Reviewed July 10, 2013 via mobile

I saw several brochures for several mines in Colorado. We stumbled ib this one and went in to see if we could go. We had our dog with us and they let us bring her on trip which was a huge plus as doing any activities with dogs on trips are hard. We loved info but price was very steep for what you get. Was extremely disappointed to not go in Argo tunnel. No train on tour as several other in state do. You walk about 50 feet into shaft then do self guided tour. Hi light wad panning for gold. Good info for Adults but maybe a little over little ones heads. Not bad tour just too much for what you get

Visited July 2013
1 Thank natfuss12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Nice visit”
Reviewed July 6, 2013

My friends and I enjoyed learning all about the mining history of the area and the mill. It was nice to walk into a small mine, walk through the mill, and even do some gold panning afterwards! Our guide didn't exactly seem enthusiastic, but he didn't hesitate to answer all our questions so I wasn't too bothered by it.

Visited June 2013
Thank Shea O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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