South Pass City was donated to Wyoming on the city's centennial in 1968.
Jars of oil coated with dust. A putty knife shoved for safekeeping into a massive beam. A spool of thread and needles dangling from rafters. All relics of a quest for wealth.
Gold was found at the Carissa Mine site south of Lander, Wyo., in 1867. South Pass City grew up around the shafts, but in 1954 the last miners clocked out. “Then it became a time capsule of a bygone era,” says Jon Lane, curator of the state historic site.
Today the mineshafts are flooded, but tours take people through the buildings. Functioning equipment from the 1940s shows how tumbling steel balls pulverized chunks of ore and how workers processed the resulting rich sand until only gold remained.
Some 30,000 artifacts are scattered in South Pass City Historic Site. They range from bolts of fabric at the general store to letters jammed between the logs of cabins. Visitors can even pan for gold in the stream that runs through town. Reservations required to enter the mine site. Parts of the site close for winter Oct. 1. (307) 332-3684, southpasscity.com/friends.html.
Photography courtesy of Anna-Katharina Stöcklin/Wikipedia
This article was first published in July 2014. Some facts my have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.