South Pass City
Pop. 17 Elev. 7,905

Sister city to Atlantic City, this gold mining town was built in 1866 when soldiers from Fort Bridger decided to prospect here. Before that, it had been a stopping place for wagon trains headed west, and then a stage and Pony Express station. It flourished until the gold ran out in the 1870s. The population once peaked at 2,000 in 1868. Periodic attempts to find more gold in the area have met with occasional success, but no great "mother lode" has been found since the early days. Calamity Jane worked here during the gold rush, and Esther Hobart Morris, the world’s first female Justice of the Peace, upheld that office here. South Pass City still feels like a genuine Old West town, complete with false front buildings, thanks to restoration efforts since the 1960s.

South Pass City originated from a gold mining camp on Willow Creek in 1867 that quickly grew to become the largest town in the state. Within eighteen months, its population exceeded two thousand. And in 1870, South Pass City boasted a population of 4,000.

Unlike other gold-mining communities that evolved into saloon towns, South Pass City became a family-oriented community for miners with wives and children due to the Indian raids. During the raids, the town’s women and children quickly headed towards a cell behind a local merchant’s wine cellar. Continuing to join forces, the women of South Pass City also held meetings and discussed women’s rights. Mrs. Esther Hobart Morris, was a strong advocate of women’s right to vote. That same year, Mr. William Bright created a bill that passed, giving equal suffrage to women. After the bill’s passage, Mrs. Esther Hobart Morris was appointed justice of the peace.

The town also claimed the first area bank, a school system, a newspaper, and a stage service. The following mines of South Pass City became highly productive: the Carissa Lode, the Franklin, the Shields, and the Jim Crow Hoosier Boy. However, when the largest of the mines, the Carissa Lode, dried out, so did the population. By 1880, South Pass City was nearly deserted. Today, the remaining buildings are the jail, the hat shop, and the Smith Sherlock store that has been recently converted into a museum. From the south, the graveyard overlooks the town, and to the north, you can see the Carissa Mine.

More Information:
South Pass City Historical Site
South Pass City Intepretive Plaques

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