Thursday, 18 August 2016

Crossing the Divide

I had been concerned about the stretch of road which lay ahead between the last crossing of the Sweetwater and Farson, as there did not seem to be access to water or decent grass for miles. NPEA member Melissa Misner had promised to help out, and I was delighted when she turned up at the Atlantic City Mercantile with husband Andy in tow to plan ahead.  So I was feeling much more confident when we set off the next morning Saturday June 4th after a hearty American breakfast at the Miner's Grubstake..
As we came down into the former gold mining town of South Pass City a few miles further on we passed the old Carissa goldmine....
This became Wyoming's principal goldmine after the Carissa lode was discovered in 1867.  It followed the usual boom and bust cycle, closing and re-opening several times before eventually closing permanently in the 1954.  Then in 2003 it was purchased by the State of Wyoming, and has been incorporated into the South Pass historic site.  It is in the process of a major restoration with repair and installation of working machinery, and it is already possible to book onto set public tours. 
Entering another great mining megalopolis...
It appears that the title of 'city' is a death knell for any town with pretensions in the west of America.
 South Pass City grew rapidly to a population of around two thousand as a direct result of the local gold mining boom of the 1860s, although there was already a stage and telegraph station here. Like nearby Atlantic City, the town soon fell into decline. and the population had fallen to around 100 by the mid 1870s.  Over the years the town deteriorated further and the last pioneer family moved out in 1949 to leave it as a ghost town. 
However in 1970 it was added to the register of National Historic Places, and many of the historic buildings have been preserved and restored to an impressive degree.   The main street with the Carissa saloon on the right, unfortunately not serving cold beer...
though you can buy sarsaparilla in the general store.
The interiors have been carefully furnished appropriate to the age of the building, and I particularly enjoyed wandering round the hotel in which every room has been fitted out in relevant style.
A house interior..
 So annoying I can't tweak the crooked picture straight.
 Crossing the dry sage brush prairie, we come to a reflective oasis down the trail...
 Are we nearly there?...
Lady and Mo at our last crossing of the Sweetwater river before the last haul up hill to South Pass.
South Pass is hugely significant in the history of emigrant movement in the west.  A broad open saddle which forms a low dip in spine-like barrier of the Rocky Mountains, it became vital as a crossing point and gateway through the Rockies for major pioneer trails such as the California, Oregon, Mormon and Pony Express.
For me it was also momentous in that it marked my arrival at the Continental Divide separating the drainage systems of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans ...
From now on all the water on the land I rode across (excepting that draining into the inland sea of the Great Salt Lake) would empty into the Pacific, the first time since I rode through China many moons ago.  From the point where we were standing it would slowly seep into Pacific Creek, then run into the Green River and Colorado river and out into the Gulf of California.
Andy and Melissa met me at a layby another nine miles along Highway 28 at the 'False Parting of the Ways' where the Oregon and Pony Express trails crossed.   They brought water and feed and I was able to camp inside the fence on BLM land.  Red sky at night as I settle down in my tent.. 

No comments:

Post a Comment