In the late 19th century, the Famatina mines were so important that Chilecito  became the site of the second branch of Banco de la Nación (Joaquín V. González and 19 de Febrero), at the northwest corner of Plaza Caudillos Federales, formerly the Plaza Sarmiento: Although it is Though impressive, the current building is not the original.
One block west, the Centro Cultural Gonzaleano (Joaquín V. González and Santiago Bazán) is a period house recycled as an art space. Three blocks farther west, Chilecito founder Domingo de Castro y Bazán built and owned the Molino de San Francisco (Ocampo 63, 8 a.m.–noon and 3–7:30 p.m. daily, free), a well-restored colonial flour mill that’s now a museum displaying local minerals, pre-Columbian tools, colonial documents, and historic weapons; leather work and wood carvings; and weavings and paintings.
One block farther west, Bodega La Riojana (La Plata 646, tel. 03825/42-3150, www.lariojana.com.ar ) is a cooperative specializing in torrontés riojano but also producing malbec, cabernet, and others, as well as dried fruit. Free guided tours, with tasting, take place four times between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. each weekday, and at 9:30 and 11 a.m. Saturday.
At the southern approach to town, the Cablecarril La Mejicana (Avenida Presidente Perón s/n) is a Leipzig-built aerial tramway that connected the railway station with the Santa Florentina smelter and the La Mejicana from 1904 until 1929. Replacing an obsolete mule-back system, it carried laborers and materials 34 kilometers to and from the mine, gaining 3,500 meters in elevation. The longest of its kind in the Americas and the second-longest in the world, it consisted of nine stations, each of which had dormitories for the laborers, linked by 262 towers; the 450 ore carts and passenger carts traveled at speeds up to 28 kilometers per hour.
Now a museum, the Cablecarril’s base station is open 8 a.m.–1 p.m. and 2–8 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m.–8 p.m. weekends, with tours (US$1.25) led by municipal guides. In addition to the tower platform and carts, the ground-level offices hold a variety of tools, minerals, and other items. The entire system is a national historical monument.
Chilecito has also opened Estación No. 2, the Cablecarril’s second station on a promontory above nearby Santa Florentina. Its century-old German-built steam power station remains in working condition, and the slowly rusting facilities are a photographer’s dream; in addition, the site offers spectacular panoramas of the Famatina Valley and its cordillera. It’s about eight kilometers west of downtown Chilecito ; the best transport option is to hire a remise, as it’s a hot, steep climb from Santa Florentina.
About three kilometers east of town via RP 12, Samay Huasi (tel. 03825/42-2629, 9 a.m.–7 p.m. daily, US$0.50) was educator Joaquín V. González’s country house, and the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, which he founded, administers the building as a natural sciences museum and research base; there is also a collection of Argentine art.