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Golden Ghosts

Ottobre 2008
Lo spirito del Far West è ancora presente nelle ghost towns, abbandonate ma rimaste intatte come se l’età dell’oro fosse finita ieri. Nel cuore del Wyoming, questa è Miner’s Delight. By Martin Simmonds.

di Martin Simmonds

File audio:

An abandoned home
An abandoned home
Dorothy Milek
Dorothy Milek

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent):

High up here in the hills the air is quiet and still. Only the golden leaves of the aspen trees whisper gently. Then, in a clearing in the woods, you see the abandoned log cabins. This is Miner’s Delight, a “ghost town” tucked away at the southern end of the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming.


A ghost town is a settlement that has been abandoned for some reason, and this part of the United States has a number of them. Some are railroad ghost towns – places that were unable to survive when the railways bypassed them – and many are associated with mining. Most were established in the nineteenth century with the westward expansion of the US.


Miner’s Delight is in the South Pass area – so called because of the breach in the Rocky Mountains which allowed people to cross the continent. Gold was first discovered here in 1842, but, when significant deposits were found in 1867, the gold rush was really on. Three towns quickly sprang up – South Pass City, Atlantic City and Miner’s Delight. Soon there were more than 30 gold mines in operation and over 3,000 people in the area. With little else to do in these remote mining camps, the alcohol flowed and earnings were gambled away. The boom was short-lived, however, and, within five years, only a few hundred people remained. Brief revivals in the 1880s, 1890s and 1930s didn’t last long either.

boom and bust

South Pass City was the largest settlement in the mining district; at its peak it had hotels, restaurants, saloons, general stores, butchers’ shops, stables, breweries and even a bowling alley. Yet by the early 20th century it was nearly deserted. Most of the inhabitants had just moved on and left everything behind. Unwashed dishes sat gathering dust and hotel beds remained cold and empty. Dorothy Milek, a local historian, describes visiting South Pass in the 1950s:

Dorothy Milek (Standard American Accent):

Well, you could make up stories, neat stories. You’d go into a room in a house or something: “Well, who do you suppose lived here? Well, I wonder if they had children, and how many children did they have? Now there’s four beds in here,” you know, and that sort of thing, so your imagination... that was the fun part of it at that time. And yes, you thought about the people, and wondered if they were successful in life, where they went, what they were doing, and, putting yourself in that position and thinking, “Well, would I have been glad to go on to some place else, or would I have been very sad to leave up here?” And probably I’d have been very sad up there, to leave, because it’s beautiful country.

For further information, visit: www.southpasscity.com

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still - ferma.

aspen trees - pioppi.

whisper - sussurrano.

clearing - radura.

log cabins - capanne di tronchi.

tucked away - rannicchiata, nascosta.

settlement - insediamento.

when the railways bypassed them - quando la ferrovia le tagliò fuori.

westward - verso ovest.

breach - passo.

the gold rush was really on - la corsa all’oro iniziò davvero.

sprang up - spuntarono.

flowed - scorreva.

the earnings were gambled away - i guadagni venivano persi al gioco.

at its peak - al suo culmine.

butchers’ shops - macellerie.

stables - stalle.

breweries - birrifici.

bowling alley - pista di bowling.

unwashed dishes sat gathering dust - piatti sporchi prendevano polvere.

you could make up... neat stories - si potevano immaginare delle storie interessanti.