The Carissa Mine
Miners headed to the California Gold Rush along the Emigrant Trails were likely the first to have discovered gold in the Sweetwater River, but serious exploration did not begin until 1867. A group of soldiers based out of Ft. Bridger heard tales of gold along the Sweetwater & followed the drainages to a vein of quartz on a high nob of rock along Willow Creek. They set the first gold claim in Dakota Territory in June of 1867. In the fall of that year they returned to Ft. Bridger boasting of their discovery & started a gold rush.
By the spring of 1868 the town of South Pass City had sprung up to support the miners. Hundreds of miners dug into the hills in the area. Most early miners used pans, sluice boxes & other simple mining equipment to get the easy surface gold. The easy surface gold was quickly depleted forcing miners to go underground.
Underground mining takes more money & time than the surface mining. Investors from outside of the territory were needed. Money from Salt Lake & Chicago were used to build larger operations. The largest was The Federal Gold Mining Company. Funded by a logging magnate from Chicago the Carissa saw its largest era of growth at the turn of the last century. The bills were more prolific than the gold & the owner lost money on the operations.
In the late 1920s another period of growth brought more expansion at the Carissa. A nearby mill Building was moved to the Carissa Site & a new head frame was constructed. It was 1929 & the great stock market crash of ’29 emptied the coffers of the business men funding the operation.
Another attempt was made in 1946 just after World War II. Money brought new equipment & technology to the Carissa. New systems increased the efficiency of the mine & the mine struggled along until the late 1950s.