Gold Mining in Wyoming
Probably the first discovery of gold was made in Wyoming in 1867, in which year the placers of the Sweetwater River were located. That such discovery was not a surprise due to the territory had been traversed ever since the discovery of gold in California by parties of prospectors and by Mormons on their way to Utah. It appears that silver mines were discovered in the Seminole Mountains as early as 1869 by three prospectors who were subsequently killed by Indians. Although the discoveries then made were not located, gold-bearing veins were found instead.
With the main range of the Rocky Mountains extending across the territory from southeast to northwest, together with the big Horn, Wind river and Medicine Bow mountains and Black Hills lying partly within the state. Wyoming has been always an ideal country for prospecting. However, the powerful and warlike Indian tribes inhabiting the regions where the prospectors would naturally go in search of mineral deposits were an effectual set back to all such work. Following the subjection of the Indians, the country became a great grazing range, and for a time the prevalent opinion was that the territory was preeminently a stock county. Lack of railroads facilities retarded the growth of the mining industry.
J.W. Hoyt, formerly state geologist of Wisconsin said there is no other region in the States in which gold appears so widely distributed as in Wyoming and without any doubt that eventually several mines of much value were worked, thus placing this territory so important for gold mining. It is important to mention that gold was found in nearly every gulch in this region and some was proved almost as rich as the famous Dutch Flat diggings in California, though of far less extent, the ravines being narrow. But their large yield was the best evidence of the number of rich lodes in this district.
Granite and gneiss constitute the formations of the central portion of some of the larger mountain ranges, the cretaceous and tertiary rocks form the plains and plateaus. The national park of the northwest has been considered largely volcanic, while in the northeastern portion of the state is a part of the Black Hills, the precious metals were found in both sedimentary and igneous rocks and usually in quartz veins.
The Bald Mountain district began its existence as a placer camp, following which a large deposit of gold-bearing conglomerate was located and developed. In October, 1898, the discovery of the Rudefeha or Haggerty-Ferris mine was made near Battle Lake in the Grand Encampment district. The mines of both the Grand Encampment and the Saratoga districts yield copper, lead, silver and gold. During this year several discoveries of minor importance were made; further there was an attempt made at working some dry placers by steam shovel. Conditions remained about the same up to 1902, although the Carissa was forgot to the front as the largest producer. There was considerable activity in the Sweetwater district, which in 1902 led in the production of gold and silver. At this time there was market advance noticeable in all mining operations and the mining industry seemed to be on a better footing than ever before.
In the southern part of the Wyoming and northern Colorado, on Douglas Creek, some placer-mining was done. The gold found was coarse and jagged and often attached to the vein-quartz. Nuggets weighing from 15 to 68 pennyweights were found. The gravels range from three to ten feet in thickness, and were free from clay and cement. The bed rock is decomposed granite and very uneven, upon which the gold was usually found. Diggings on Lake Creek, just below the mouth of Ingalls Gulch, and just above the mouth of Douglas Gulch reported gold. Some attempts were made to work dry placers in several localities by steam shovels. In 1905 there only 13 mines producing gold and silver, of which seven were placer workings and six were deep mines. The deep mines moved near of 31,000 tonnes of ore. At that time, the main counties with gold mining activity were Albany, Carbon, Crook, Fremont, Natrona, and Uinta.