A nearly 7.5 ounce nugget was recovered from old dredge tailings near Rock Creek at South Pass by a prospector with a metal detector. How many other large nuggets were missed and how much gold continues further downstream from the old mine tailings? The Rock Creek mine was closed by the War Production Board in 1942 because all mining was ordered to provide war support. The mine never started up again after World War II ended. After I did some consulting for a group on Rock Creek to check out the gold content of the gravels, tailings, etc, I was impressed by all of the gold that likely still remains in Rock Creek. Lots of virgin ground and where the tailings were dumped, considerable gold was lost with the tailings as the mill for the operation was not well designed. AND they also rejected any and all large nuggets to save money on processing.
It appears from field examination that the Rock Creek operation left considerable virgin ground that is completely unmined. In the above photo of the ET Fisher mill on Rock Creek. The mill is located on unmined ground. But even the tailings carry considerable gold. I met one prospector who had accumulated more than 100 gold nuggets from the mined tailings using a metal detector.
A 34- ounce nugget found on Rock Creek downstream from Atlantic City. A similar gold placer exists on Willow Creek south of Rock Creek. Willow Creek has less gravel, but its placer was partially derived from the rich Carissa mine lode at South Pass City. This placer likely is very rich at depth, but has been withdrawn from the public as has the Carissa mine. The Carissa lode is likely a multi-million ounce gold deposit taken from the public by the State Government.
There are many gold prospects waiting to be explored and developed in Wyoming and the adjacent states. While searching for gold, always keep an eye out for diamonds, diamond indicator minerals, rubies, sapphires, platinum, palladium and any gemstones of interest. In this photo above, the gold has one tiny garnet that proved to be a pyrope garnet, or diamond indicator mineral. Placer diamonds were found upstream from this locality, but the diamond lode remains to be found. So, keep your eye peeled for any interesting minerals and rocks when you search for gold. There are many gemstone deposits yet to be discovered in Wyoming.
Gold from South Pass. This gold was produced by two placer miners in the 1980s in a gulch overlooked by everyone. They were experienced miners and used a small backhoe and trommel and recovered about 20 ounces of gold/week.