A Little Bit Of Local History: Searching for Gold at Miner’s Delight
By Jean Mathisen Haugen, Lander Historian
(Lander, Wyo.) – Miner’s Delight, Wyoming came into being in early 1868 as one of three gold rush towns on South Pass. it was originally named Hamilton City, but since the Miner’s Delight mine proved to be the richest of the mines in Spring Gulch, the name of the mine ultimately became the name of the town.
While South Pass City and Atlantic City were both bustling and booming somewhat, Miner’s Delight was quieter. James Chisholm, a reporter from the Chicago Tribune, described it as a quiet little place tucked into the aspen trees when he visited the town and took up residence there for a time in the summer of 1868. Chisholm kept a journal that was later published as the book ‘SOUTH PASS, 1868″
Major Noyes Baldwin of the 1st Nevada Volunteer Cavalry at Ft. Bridger led a prospecting party of 40 men to area the summer of 1865. The miners returned each year and the Miner’s Delight lode was located along with a number of placer claims in September, 1867. The actual discoverer of the Miner’s Delight Lode may have been by Jonathan Pugh or Frank McGovern. By June, 1868 the first notice of a town at the site was noted in the “Sweetwater Mines” newspaper. “Hamilton City is growing apace and some 30 buildings are up in Spring Gulch.”
Ernest and Mart Hornecker, along with James Laird and Jake Frey arrived on August 6, 1869. Mart and Ernest ended up working for James Kime who owned a store at Miner’s Delight for many years–mostly cutting hay at Lovell Meadows. Miner’s Delight had a reputation of being peaceful, but on the first night there, one fellow who was a trouble maker and drunk as could be started taking potshots at another fellow. Both of them were so drunk they couldn’t hit anything, but Ernest and Mart dived under a wagon for cover.
By 1872 the Miner’s Delight mines were dying out. The richest strikes at the Carissa South Pass City and Atlantic City continued, but. Miner’s Delight became a ghost town. It may likely resemble the quiet little camp James Chisholm first saw in 1868. Rich gold never did quite “pan” out at Miner’s Delight.