New CC&V Mining Overlook Debuts to Critical Acclaim- Rick Langenberg

img_9785Although many locals mourn the loss of American Eagles site near Victor, a new scenic mining overlook, which officially opened last week, is getting the thumbs-up by community and elected leaders and residents.
More importantly, local officials are enthusiastic about the future plans, calling for two additional mining-related signature displays and attractions to further boost tourism in the area.
Last week, the Newmont Mining Corporation, the new owners of the Cripple Creek and Victor Gold Mining Company (CC&V), cut the ribbon on their much anticipated Grassy Valley Overlook, located off Teller 82, only minutes away from the Mollie Kathleen Mine in the north section of the district.
The overlook, which features a paved parking lot and a huge haul truck bed with stairs, fenced railing and a viewing platform, offers a close glimpse into the company’s Wild Horse Extension Surface Mine that began in 2010. Visitors get to observe an active gold mining pit that encompasses a 3,500-wide, 4,500-foot area that is nearly 600-feet deep.
In the process, they can spot many huge trucks hauling 250 tons of ore, along with ongoing excavation work. Plus, this section of the mining district reportedly houses some of the region’s more upscale deposits with higher reams of gold, often dubbed as “gold bugs.”
“The old-timers would have made money out of this area,” boasted Jack Henris, the general manager of Newmont’s CC&V operation.
And on the other side of the overlook, visitors can enjoy some rare mountain scenery in the district, which is showcasing amazing autumn colors this time of year.
“This is a 360-degree panoramic experience,” said Brad Poulson, a spokesperson for Newmont, who believes the overlook is situated in a prime spot.
Lisa Becker, director of external relations for Newmont, touted the safety and prime access for the Grassy Valley Overlook, which is located on a county road. “This is a great way to view an active mining operation real close and be able to see the equipment from a safe access,” said Becker.
Safety concerns topped the list for Newmont to shut down the American Eagles Overlook last spring, and pursue plans for a new site. Becker believes the new location, which is much easier for Cripple Creek-bound motorists, could attract a lot more visitors.
In addition, mining officials say this is just the first step in developing additional overlook and historic attractions that encompass the entire district. The company plans to relocate the historic mining relics of American Eagles to the Little Grouse Hill, on the other side of the mining district off Hwy. 67, between Cripple Creek and Victor. That development is scheduled for early next year. “We recognize the historic and cultural significance of the American Eagles site and want to work with the community as best we can,” said Becker. “We realize this is very important to the community.”
According to Becker, the company is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to preserve these artifacts.
In addition, a final trail exhibit is planned, highlighting the Hoosier mining site, located between Battle Mountain and Ajax near Victor. These plans will hopefully generate more visitors to Victor, according to Newmont officials.
Some residents still contend that nothing can really replace the former American Eagles Overlook, one of Victor’s key attractions, previously located off Hwy. 81 on a spot that nearly hit the 10,000-foot altitude range. It was renowned for providing an unprecedented overview of CC&V’s entire Cresson mining operation and a panoramic view of the southern Colorado region, including rare glimpses of several well-known mountain ranges. It also housed the American Eagles mine site and a rare variety of historic relics
But with the ongoing active mining operation in this part of the district, safety became a concern. Visitors had to cross a road on mine property that heavy machines traveled on. Newmont officials say that security emerged as a big issue. In addition, the American Eagles access road itself posed some challenges due to inclement weather.
Nevertheless, when Newmont officials announced plans to shut down American Eagles about a year ago, a huge community outcry occurred from southern Teller residents. The company temporarily delayed this closure, held many community meetings, and reviewed a variety of options. Finally, it opted for the Grassy Valley site, with future plans for relocating the historic mining relics and doing additional attractions. This followed a study done by Morrison Geotechnical Solutions and Haley & Aldrich last winter.
The new mining overlook area was completed within a several month period.
A Positive Review
During last week’s ceremony, county and city officials praised the new overlook as a monumental step for the company. Few comments were made regarding the American Eagles closure.
“This offers a window into the soul of an active mining operation,” said Teller County Commissioner Marc Dettenrieder, in describing the new overlook. The commissioner said elected leaders are proud to have Teller serve as the home of the biggest mining venture in the state. “This perpetuates the mining heritage,” added the commissioner. He also praised CC&V’s community-friendly attitude.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Victor Mayor Buck Hakes. “This is a suitable replacement,” said Hakes. Moreover, the Victor mayor praised the company’s overall plans for its additional overlooks, describing these efforts as a potential boon for tourism. “We need all the help we can get,” added the Victor mayor, touting the importance of tourism and efforts to preserve the mining district heritage.
“This is a win, win, win and win,” added Henris. He emphasized that the Grassy Valley addition was just the beginning of its plans to attract more visitors into the region. “This is a good first step.”
“We are thrilled,” said resident Ed Speck of Florissant. He and a few other residents who attended the opening ceremony lauded the public process that occurred in considering a viable alternative, with the pending closure of American Eagles.
The new overlook and the proposed future exhibits are just part of the forthcoming plans for Newmont’s CC&V operation. The company will soon begin tree removal and top soil work for its new proposed mining project, just outside of Cripple Creek, located almost directly across from the Heritage Center. The actual mining in this area, referred to as the Globe Hill project, will begin next year and continue for close to 10 years.
Plans for this project were approved about eight years ago, but not without controversy. Cripple Creek city leaders and CC&V officials at the time debated this project for a lengthy period, as this marked the first time CC&V announced a mining project near the gaming community. Eventually, both sides reached a compromise.