“We are going to write some History. Think of the Honor! We have been chosen to put some interesting people and some of Nature’s grandest scenes on the page of Human record and on the map. Hurry! We are daily loosing the most important news of all the World” ~ Meditations of John Muir ~
Morning in Lander, Wyoming. Lander has turned out to be a strong “home base” for us throughout the summer thanks to my Friends KC and Mia. It is a bit of a Home away from no Home! Drinking my good roasted coffee again which I have missed, a bit weighted down with the thoughts of what will I take with me to Germany since I have been loaned a nice suitcase and a carry on, a bit also nervous about flying. It is all on my mind. I do not like flying. I really do not like flying. And then there is “what will Spirit think?”. Will he search for me daily as I will? We are one, have been for a long time now, more than a shadow we are joined at the hip 24/7. He is still asleep on this a bit colder day, I wish I did not have to go and yet I am excited about seeing my Mother and spending some quality time with her. It has been two years. Overdue. The idea is to make some sense into her for a move to maybe Austin where I could go and spend much more time with her. She does well, she is however 83, time is flying by, none left to waste away apart. How did we manage to have such a geographical distance between us?
I still have a few days here and lately a missing element in my Journey has surfaced, an element present in the past that has slowly I felt vanished maybe overtaken by my Love for Mother Nature setting aside everything else I encounter on this path we are on. There is so much History, Geology, more, that always surrounds me as I feel I have not paid much attention to it as I use to. An inquisitive mind that maybe went a bit dull as suddenly, specially being in this rich area with much past, has woken up suddenly with such a desire to dig into what was then as I do feel what is now. I never had much chance to roam around here as we have been present either in bad weather, at times too early because of snow, at other times too late needing to head on south since so constantly exposed to the elements.
This week is different. It is of the best times being here as we took off yesterday with a loop to ride in mind, of course knowing deep down not because of it’s distance, but because of it’s rich History, we would never finish it. And we did not. Part of it was due to the rain, the heavy rain we dodged changing directions trying to avoid it, to no avail a couple times. It was also due to much time spending in South Pass City chatting about the area with the local caretakers, playing with the cameras and discovering in words also about the “Red Desert” near by which we have never set foot in. We are so slow moving on, we could have spend a few days in South Pass City alone and the neighboring Atlantic City which was too wet to even think about stopping. With so many unpaved roads around, the thought was to also arrive in Jeffrey City which is another Ghost Town east of Sweetwater Station and then on through another unpaved road to the Castle Gardens Petroglyphs near by the Geographic Center of Wyoming.
I smile as I know this little Journey alone would probably take us a couple weeks. For that reason I think next summer we will mainly spend a few months truly exploring Wyoming and Montana, searching for the locals and their stories, digging deep into the events of the past couple hundred years and the changes of the past millions of years of this Earthy crust we have come to love so much. Chatting takes time! And yet words exchanged inquisitive to the minds are of such mental value when souls of similar attractions are met maybe just once by the Faith of time, maybe for that one chance we will have to speak to each other for it to never happen again. Such events do take place often as it did in South Pass City with others roaming this past ancient Gold Mine little town, now a well maintained Historic Site. Meeting other for those brief moments I am finding being such a wealth along such as with books read, photos taken, sights seen and felt, Life itself.
They say “South Pass is a crossroad in space and time”. It is that intersection of the past and the present which creates from it’s ancient days a blur of the facts maybe painting it all a bit as fiction. And does it really matter if such fiction we want to believe in as being today’s minds reality? So much time has past, so much water has run under the bridges of time, the artifacts remain but the residents are long gone replaced by now us paying homage to what was once. The first dwellings went up in 1859 serving as a stage and freight station. Also a stop by the Pony Express from 1860 to 1861, short lived. In 1863 a small Military detachment from Fort Bridgers, the 11th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, manned the station. The outpost was even ravaged twice by fire in Indian raids, ending up being also locally known as “Burnt Ranch”.
The “Gold Rush”… always the “Gold Rush” in these past years have been the fundamental drive for these established communities at times thriving, at times defunct only to be again being reborn from constant reinvestments of the wealthy wanting to get wealthier as in present times today’s concept not being a new one. Hundreds of promising gold strikes brought thousands of newcomers, interested miners, merchants and entrepreneurs. With time the rise and the fall due to the lack of sufficient gold as the many other similar camps across the American West did not spare South Pass. The Town was however too tough to die. Dedicated core of hangers-on continued to have their own faith maintain the future of the community with diversified means of making ends meet through a variety of industries.
It included ranching, haying, timbering, market hunting, freighting and cottage industries, and by the late 1890’s, South Pass became and remains as seen and felt through our own eyes. It’s remote location made it difficult to sustain as even another mine near by, the Cariso Mine, changed hands several times as the result of national and international economic cycles. It’s closing and re-opening cycles rippled through the South Pass area in repeated boom and bust cycles. What remains are the passing by tourists these days attracted to such historical past, a past maintained by the hard core locals. In 1968 the Town celebrated it’s Centennial and a group of Wyoming’s Citizens banded together and purchased the remaining Historic structures. Through donations, entrance fees, they have achieved their goal preserving one of the best examples of a Frontier Mining Camp as today, the Town is almost exactly as it appeared a Century ago.
As having found a needle in the haystack, we left by the end of the day after taking refuge at the Mercantile General Store where Yvonne kindly let us remain in while buckets of rain dropped off the skies. Spirit, always well behaved, managed to find the only carpet to lay on amongst the old wood floors and myself, even though not being a soda drinker, tasted this kind of root beer made from what was to me an unknown root called “Sarsaparilla”. Made with cane sugar, it was good I must admit. I think Wyoming has also the big skies, no doubt as I stopped often to capture them riding through this Gallery of paintings in constant changes. We will be back as also there and there… so much to experience.
Till next time… be well.
Ara & Spirit