The possibility of having the old Pioche Mill, currently owned by Pioche-Ely Valley Mines, Inc., donated to the county was presented to the board of county commissioners at its meeting July 22.
County Planning and Building director Cory Lytle asked the board to consider a possible donation to the county of the old Pioche Mill and surrounding property as proposed by Pioche-Ely Valley Mines, Inc.
Lytle told commissioners the company doesn’t really want to continue maintaining an old building which has been closed for nearly 60 years and contains some hazardous materials within the facility.
“If the present owners would try to deal with it to redevelop the building for whatever reason, they would have to deal with a lot of questionable issues. Some of their shareholders have some concerns of the liability issues the building faces.
Therefore, a very simple option would be to simply tear the whole building down. Rather, Pioche-Ely Valley Mines is offering to donate the building, along with 120 acres, to the county if the county is interested.”
Lytle said he thinks the old mill could be a benefit to county tourism. “There’s a vast amount of history right there and the things they were associated with are something that would be a pretty strong marketing tool, moving forward in terms of tourism. It’s an iconic structure that probably needs to stay there. I’ve had several conversations with people of the community about keeping it.”
After hearing Lytle and others advocate for preserving the historic old mill, commissioners decided they would take more time to consider the ideas and discuss the matter further at the Aug. 5 meeting.
Lytle stated the mill played a vital part in keeping Pioche alive in the early 20th century and throughout much of the Great Depression. “Pioche would have died without this mill.”
He said by the 1930s, mining engineers and technology had developed new ways of extracting high-grade ore from tailings left over from the mining boom in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. “That helped the town of Pioche keep its head above water in those days.”
He noted, “The idea of trying to develop and promote the vacant land to some extent after the mill would be torn down would present other problems because you have contaminated soil, old tailing ponds and the fact that the building no longer has water or electricity.”
Nor would it be immediately feasible to try to open the building as a museum attraction, he said. “All kinds of liability issues exist right now. But the idea of the structure and what it was really is remarkable. Maybe someday create some kiosks, interpretive reader boards and walking trails, but not going inside. It would help cater to the tourist industry.”
Others at the meeting said they have seen people drive to the property just to look at the old mill before stopping at the “No Trespassing” sign.