Visitors look down into the original gold mine dug at South Pass City State Historic Site. The hand dug mine went down 150 feet, following a vein of gold. In the background is the restored Hoist House and trestle over the more modern mine, which had five shafts. (Ernie Over photo)
(South Pass City, Wyo.) – The official public opening of the Carissa Mill at South Pass City State Historic Site is this Sunday. Admission will be free on Sunday and tours of the Carissa Mill will be offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The mill has been off limits to the public since the mine and mill closed in 1954.
After the State of Wyoming acquired the site through a legislative appropriation, the Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources has been working with the Abandoned Mine Lands Division of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to restore the mill. Restoration efforts have been underway for the past three years. Milling equipment that had been removed from the Carissa since its closing was found, purchased and returned.
The newly re-installed ball mill is in working condition and it will be demonstrated, along with a water table and other facilities inside the mill. “The ball mill weighs in at 23,000 pounds & holds 4 tons of steel balls,” said SPCSHS Supt. Joe Ellis. “The whole contraption spins making a racket that can be felt in your bones. All this to crush ore and free tiny flakes of gold! It is an experience like no other in the nation.” The restored Hoist House and trestle, which sits over the primary mine shaft and connects the mine to the mill, will also be open for inspection.
Visitors on Sunday can view the ball mill in operation, participate in gold panning opportunities along Willow Creek and view demonstrations of the stamp mill on the hill above South Pass City. The historic site staff and volunteers will be on hand to explain the workings of the mill and assist with activities in the historic gold mine town.
South Pass City is located off Wyoming Highway 58 south of Lander on South Pass.