Thousands rushed to the South Pass area following the find of substantial gold deposits at the Carissa Mine in 1867. As the boom gained steam, the Carissa sat at the center of mining development, serving as the primary economic force for South Pass City. Eventually, the gold played out and the Carissa's mining technology reached its limit. As a result, the Carissa closed, contributing to the gold bust and the decline of South Pass City in the 1870s.
Modern advances in mining technology and an influx of new money made it possible for the Carissa to reopen in the early 1900s, bringing with it a renewed boom. A large project that modernized the Carissa during the winter of 1928-1929 created additional facilities that were both newly built and moved to the site. The Carissa continued to open and close with new owners, new money, fluctuating gold prices, and new technologies. It closed for the last time in 1949 and the State of Wyoming acquired it in 2003 designating it as a historic site.