Carissa Saloon, South Pass City, Wyoming
The Carissa Saloon in South Pass City, Wyoming, has been fully restored with period furnishings and artifacts from the area that would have been typical for a simple saloon like the Carissa. Wood burning stoves were often found in saloons, and the interior displays the expected long wooden bar, simple furnishings, and a treat for the customers – a piano. The walls are decorated with antlers, a deer head, and posters.
One of the longest-running saloons in South Pass City, the Carissa Saloon was built by James Smith in about 1890. It takes its name from the area’s richest gold mine located on the hill above the town. The saloon was a simple affair, offering basic furnishings and refreshments to its customer. The simple rectangular building with a typical false front is approximately 21′ x 31′ with a storage room constructed into the hill behind it. The original flooring was 3 1/2″ tongue and groove flooring, the walls of the front room were painted gypsum board, and the rear room was built of logs. The ceiling in the main room was a painted board ceiling, and in the rear room, logs were exposed.
The saloon passed through several hands during its early years, and by the 1940s, it was run by John “Shorty” Nichols, who was known by the locals as a storyteller. It was later abandoned and began to deteriorate. Further damage occurred in 1960 when a road grader went out of control and struck the front of the building. In 1977 the building was restored and opened to the public as part of the South Pass Historic Site.