Out West Vacation 2013: South Pass City

On the way from Dinosaur National Monument, we drove by something that looked like a dam. We stopped, and sure enough, it was: Flaming Gorge Dam.

Flaming Gorge Dam

It looked a whole lot like Hoover Dam, which we visited a few years back. We went into the visitor’s center and saw a video, and looked around for a little bit. Pretty much nobody was there, and in fact some of the workers asked eagerly (hopefully?) if we’d like a tour. This was a huge contrast to Hoover Dam, where we had to hurry to join the long tour line. Ah well, another instance of a lot of slightly-smaller attractions being perhaps superior to the big names. I read that Hoover Dam is 726′ high, while Flaming Gorge is a mere 502′. Ah well, all I can tell you is that they looked indistinguishable to me on sunny days a few years apart.

But Flaming Gorge is not the location of today’s post. For that, we traveled on into Wyoming. All these out-west states were full of odd wooden fencing. It didn’t appear to be fencing anything in. But I learned that these fences are to prevent snow blowing over the roads in winter. Here’s an example (and a fun critter just made it into the photo, too!):

snow fence Wyoming

snow fence — with an antelope (which I learned are actually pronghorn)

After a while, some buildings appeared on the horizon:

South Pass City Wyoming

It was what remained of South Pass City, a booming gold mining town from around 1870. There were about 20 buildings there to look at — a jail, a school, several houses. No one lives here anymore; it’s a “ghost town.” After the trip was over, when I asked the girls what they liked best, at least one named South Pass City. To me, that was kind of surprising — it was just a bunch of old empty buildings. Still, it did have a bit of a personality.

And a lot of wind. I couldn’t believe how windy it was. I think it’s windy at our house, but that was nothing compared to this. Maybe it’s just Wyoming. I asked a nearby couple about the wind. They were from Cheyenne, Wyoming’s capital, and they said, “Oh, this isn’t too bad.”

As usual in places like this, I look for the human element. One building had a letter posted from a mother to her son, Peter. I’m assuming this was written during a winter, which must be pretty harsh out here on the Wyoming plains. She was telling about various people and the body parts they’d had recently amputated. Several people who were still being looked for. Again, it was a reminder that the “good ol’ days” were certainly not all good.

South Pass City Wyoming

 See you at the Grand Tetons, and a very — um — memorable  hike …

2 thoughts on “Out West Vacation 2013: South Pass City

  1. I’m enjoying the ride. Where are we eating today? You know that’s always a highlight for me!

  2. Although I’ve enjoyed several trips out West, I don’t think I’ve seen anything you mentioned today, except the one with which you teased us for tomorrow. That one I’ve seen and it was spectacular!

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