Thursday - South Pass City (74 miles)

Although my bike now seemed to be operating normally, our return to Lander meant we would have to improvise for Thursday.  The one bad thing about our new style of staying in one location multiple nights is it didn't work as well in the vast expanses of Wyoming as it did in the Southeast like 2002.  We would have to ride hundreds of miles to get anywhere we hadn't already been, and in the case of most routes multiple times.  So we had decided the night before we would stay close to Lander and do some sightseeing; at least by our standards.  We decided to head south on WY28 and go into the ghost towns of Atlantic City and South Pass City.  The area around Lander and these smaller cities had virtual open warfare between cattle and sheep herders in the late 19th century and early 20th century.   Butch Cassidy was actually tried in the town of Lander in 1893 for possessing stolen horses.  In 1908 sheep herder J.W. Blake had 350 of his sheep slaughtered by attackers who overran his camp he leased on the Wind River Indian Reservation.  The railroad arrived in Lander in 1906 spurring further growth.    Mining in Atlantic City and South Pass City came and went in these years.  U.S. Steel opened a large mine near Atlantic City in 1962 but it closed by 1983.  After a short ride on WY28 we turned left towards the Atlantic City Campground.  Atlantic City is maybe five miles off of WY28 on graded gravel road.  Atlantic City is small settlement of historic wooden cabins and buildings in a small valley cut by Rock Creek.  We arrived fairly early in the morning so there wasn't much movement.  The center of activity in the sleepy little hamlet is the false fronted Atlantic City Mercantile (KMZ), complete with a restaurant and a bar with a bullet hole in the back-bar mirror.  We had stopped to look around and went into the store to browse.  After a short time we continued down the gravel road (now packed dirt) to South Pass City.  Like Atlantic City, South Pass City consists mostly of a small collection of wooden homes and buildings.  The town was named for a nearby low mountain pass crossed by the Oregon Trail.  Gold was first discovered in the area in 1865 by soldiers from Fort Bridger.  The Carissa Mine developed at the site just outside of town.  We stopped to take some pictures.  By 1872 with no major lodes having been discovered the town began to die.  Smaller booms in the 1880s, 1890s, 1930s, and 1960s kept both towns alive.  In 1965 many of the South Pass City buildings were nearly hauled off to a California Amusement park, but a group of Wyoming citizens raised money to keep them in place.  It is now a park of sorts itself, and for a small entrance fee we were able to walk around the buildings.  Most have been restored to their original condition and offer a nice historic view.  The road continues back onto WY28 where headed north for a few miles before picking up Louis Lake Road.  This road was not nearly in as good of shape as the road to South Pass City so the going was very slow.  The road descends through a rocky canyon through a good stand of spruce.  Shortly after that we came upon Louis Lake.  There was a lodge there with cabins in the surrounding area.  We stopped for a dip in Louis Lake (KMZ).  It was very cold so we didn't stay in long, the outside temperature was not very hot to begin with.  We began the climb back up and ran along Fiddler's Lake.  A very nice serene lake its waters were a deep blue color.  Snow-capped mountains to our west of the Wind River range could be seen as we began a big descent down to Sinks Canyon.  We stopped at Sinks Canyon State Park, this site was created because of the odd behavior of the Middle Popo Agie River.  The waterway flows down toward the valley from the high peaks of the Wind River Range, gaining in volume as it goes.  However, it abruptly disappears in a large sinkhole in the bottom of the canyon in the state park, only to reappear again less than half a mile down canyon.  We went into the state park to view the sink hole, took some pictures and headed back into town.  We loaded up our bike in preparation for our journey home the next day.