Is Idaho Springs about to experience another gold rush?

Posted at 7:10 PM, Jun 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-19 21:12:13-04

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IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. — Developers are hoping to strike it rich with plans to revive an old gold mine just west of Idaho Springs.

Plans call for a mining-themed ‘adventure park’ in the old Stanley Mine. The park would be called the Stanley Mines Adventure Park.

Clear Creek County commissioners gave the plans final approval at a hearing on Tuesday and developers say they could be open for business as soon as Memorial Day of next year.

Supporters say this could be Clear Creek County's next gold rush.

“And to bring it back to life and give it some vitality is going to be great for our economy," said Cassandra Patton, director of the Clear Creek County Tourism Bureau.

Initial plans include a beer garden, alpine coaster, a mine shaft drop and mine tours through part of the five-miles of adits and tunnels that exist in the mountain.

“For the adrenaline seeker, this is going to be great," Patton said. “It has the potential to be a great draw for the county."

But, there are also other views.

"We moved here for different reasons. For the peace and quiet, for the lack of traffic," said Ginny Wasilawski who has legitimate concerns about traffic and parking.

"I'm assuming this is year-round,” she said. “So, I believe it will get clogged in that area."

Wasilawski has lived in the area for 32 years.

Idaho Springs resident Doug Potter said there’s also an affordable housing shortage.

"There's not enough places for people to live,” said Potter who has lived here for 41 years. “As it stands now, you know - law enforcement, teachers, emergency workers really can't afford to live up here. And, you know, something like this is going to take a lot of employees and so, that's my biggest concern - just workforce housing and affordable housing."

On the other hand, he's supportive of the effort. "I hope it works."

Many say it's time something is done with the dilapidated mine.

As a comparison, project engineer Ben Miller says this is not and will never be an Elitch Gardens-type amusement park.

"We're really trying not to be an amusement park," Miller said. "We don't want to go to battle with Elitch's, right? We're not that thing. We’re trying to preserve history with a little bit of fun."

The goal, make it half museum, half adventure park with a restaurant and beer garden.

“It's a big animal,” Miller said. “But it has a ton of potential.”

Early estimates are that it could draw 100,000 visitors a year. A preservation of history, while adding some flare that could be a modern-day gold mine.

"This is close to Denver and it's as history-Colorado as you can get," said developer Bruce Russell. “We would love to see a line of school buses parked out front. There are so many educational aspects to this project.”

The park would be similar to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Garfield County, with thrill rides, educational and historical exhibits, a restaurant and beer garden and event space.