The South Pass, in which you are now located, is perhaps the most significant transportation-gateway through the Rocky Mountains. Indians, mountain men, Oregon Trail emigrants, Pony Express riders, and miners all recognized the value of this passageway straddling the Continental Divide. Bounded by the Wind River Range on the north and the Antelope Hills on the south, the pass offered overland travelers a broad, relatively level corridor between the Atlantic and Pacific watersheds.
Mining plays a fundamental role in the history of the South Pass region. Gold may have been discovered as early as 1842, but gold fever did not strike until 1867 when a sample of South Pass ore arrived in Salt Lake City. News of the discovery spread swiftly and hordes of expectant millionaires descended on the new towns of South Pass City, Atlantic City, and Miner's Delight. The boom played out quickly. The easily obtained placer gold was rapidly exhausted and miners began leaving the area in the early 1870s.
Despite the brief duration of the boom, mining activity did not cease. In 1884, an enterprising Frenchman named Emile Granier began organizing the construction of a hydraulic gold mining system which employed many local residents over a ten year period. The Fisher Dredge Company recovered considerable gold ore from the bed of Rock Creek during the 1930s. More recently, the United States Steel iron ore mine operated near Atlantic City from the early 1960s until 1983. Hard rock mines also reopen periodically and some are presently operating. Until the next boom arrives, travelers can experience the flavor of a Rocky Mountain mining town by visiting nearby South Pass City which has been restored by the State of Wyoming.