Park County is working to restore what was once one of the richest mines in the Alma District: the Paris Mine and Mill.
The mine was discovered in 1878, but its complex ore and high-altitude location — on Mount Bross, outside of Alma’s town limits — hampered its profitability, so investors built the mill and tramway to reduce transportation and smelting costs. During its first forty years, investors strove to improve profitability, but the ore was difficult to process, and the mine ultimately closed in 1937.
Over the past few years, Park County has been working to restore the mine and mill, which was listed on Colorado Preservation Inc.’s Endangered Places Program in 2004.
“We’re trying to stabilize the mill so we can open it up to the public,” says Jennie Andrusin, projects and grants manager for the Park County Department of Heritage, Tourism and Community Development. “We’d like to open it for interpretation and give tours.”
Park County completed local landmark designation for the property and has performed roof repairs, hosted community work days, nominated the building to the National Register of Historic Places and temporarily stabilized a number of structural issues.
The project could be completed by 2022. But at 11,003 feet, the construction season for the project is short. The timing also depends on the funding the project receives from grants.
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In the meantime, the county is creating a model of the mill so people can see what it will look like when the project is completed.
“There’s a lot of community support,” Andrusin says. “The construction process is long, so we want to make sure people know we’re working on it.”
Started in 2014, the rehabilitation project is being funded by the State Historical Fund, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety. The South Park National Heritage Area is funding the master plan.