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Bob Bowland is a co-owner of The Argo Mill & Tunnel, but simply calling him an owner does not do true justice to his connection to the site. Bob is a treasure trove of Idaho Springs history, especially as it relates to the Argo. He paints a fantastic picture of the Argo’s evolution over the years. That spans throughout the second industrial revolution and into the future.
Argo Tales From Bob’s Early Days
The Argo is an enduring part of Idaho Springs history, especially for Bob. The mill is an element of his life that has always been there. He was a young boy when a disastrous flood ended the mill’s operation in 1943. Bob has compiled stories from his mother and others though he does not remember it in operation. They described a massive rush of air coming out of the tunnel ahead of many millions of gallons of water flooded out for 7 to 8 hours on that fateful day. His mother often warned how dangerous it was for miners to work in the Argo tunnel. These stories may have had the opposite effect Bob’s mother intended. His interest in the mill is stronger now than ever.
While growing up, the Argo was a derelict structure that too often became a dangerous playground for young boys such as Bob. “The last time I was ever in the Mill I was crawling up one of the big rock piles. The more I scrambled to get up, the more I got sucked into a machine. The machine was dead, but I had no idea how deep the hole below me went. I eventually became faster than the rock and got out of there.” Bob did not step foot in the mill for many years after that.
Idaho Springs History Moved On, But the Argo Remained
After returning to Idaho Springs after being away for decades, Bob found the Argo had become a tourist attraction that preserved the history Bob had grown up so close to. Eventually, former owner Jim Maxwell approached Bob and others about purchasing the Argo. Memories from Bob’s childhood immediately rushed back to him, stunned by its preservation and captivated by its history. Bob and the future owners of the mill realized more and more with each step that there was great potential to bring the mill back to life, that it is not only part of Idaho Springs history but the Colorado Gold Rush. The decision was easy and they soon realized they could not resist the chance to purchase this invaluable part of Idaho Springs history.
The Argo Mill & Tunnel is even more of an iconic landmark capturing the eyes of those that come through Idaho Springs. It boasts an incredible experience for all ages with guided tours. There’s also a gift shop that highlights products from the tour and Mill.