In a poll taken by USA Today, readers chose which destination in each state was the best visit for the bucket list, choosing Bonne Terre Mines for Missouri’s. The staff just found out about the victory by looking at their Facebook wall.
“There was no notification or anything,” said the owner, Doug Goergens. “Yesterday, I just noticed it on USA Today’s Facebook page."
Opened by Doug and Catherine Goergens, this is the second award the mines won from USA Today. Another reader poll from the USA 10 Best 2016 named Bonne Terre Mines the best underwater attraction.
The award had an impact on visitors.
“After our award in 2016, we saw a 30-40 percent increase in customers,” Goergens said. “Eighty percent of the guests aren’t even from Missouri.”
They welcome 20,000 unique visitors a year, many to dive into the 50 different diving trails, and many to see the beauty of the flooded mines.
Visitors can see up 100 feet deep into the water, which along the trail is lit up by 500,000 watts of electricity.
Scuba divers also visit from all around the world to obtain their official diving license which allows access to diving spots worldwide.
“Bonne Terre Mines has been recognized by the state of Missouri as a place that brings in tourists to state, right up alongside Branson and Lake of the Ozarks,” Goergens said, citing a commercial that VisitMo ran for television in other states back in 2013.
Goergens is expecting a return from the article. “We’re looking to see more customers,” he said. “This is just exposure that is more credible than advertisements.”