A region rich in history. A city rich in gold. From 1812 to 1868 this open country at the end of the Wind River Mountains provided a passage - the only passage - through the Rocky Mountain barrier of the Continental Divide for some 500,000 westering Americans. Through this Great South Pass came the Mountain Men, fur trappers and traders, explorers, missionaries, pioneers in covered wagons traversing the Oregon, California and Mormon trails, overland stage coaches, military expeditions, and Pony Express riders.
In 1866, however, traffic on the great trails had dwindled with the anticipated completion of the transcontinental railroad. Then, in 1867, gold was discovered on Willow Creek. The rush was on. By 1869 more than 30 mines were in operation and some 3,000 people populated the region. The instant towns of South Pass City, Atlantic City and Miners Delight were rip-roaring and wide open for business.
This lusty, male-dominated mining district became the unlikely center of a move for female suffrage when it elected William H. Bright, a South Pass City miner and saloon keeper, to the first Wyoming Territorial Council in Cheyenne. Bright introduced a Female Suffrage Act that gave all adult Wyoming women the right to vote and hold public office. The Act was passed by the legislative body and signed into law on December 10, 1869, making Wyoming the first official government in the country to grant equal rights to women.
The mining boom went bust in the 1870s, and the population moved on to the next bonanza. The towns became near ghosts, although some limited mining activity continued. Today the region is operated as a Historic Mining District by the Bureau of Land Management. South Pass City, two miles south, is a Wyoming State Historic Site.