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.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.