Wyoming May 12, 2018
The Old Mining Town In Wyoming With A Sinister History That Will Terrify You
When you think of Wyoming, you think of our peaceful mountain state, and I’m certain you feel safe. We know all of our neighbors here, and it’s easy to get involved with our towns and get to know local businesses. Perhaps that’s why it’s so shocking to hear the horrific story of Wyoming’s first – and worst – serial killer, who committed her crimes in a quiet mining town.
South Pass is a small, nearly abandoned town located south of Lander, Wyoming.
In the 1860s, it was a busy, bustling mining town in an area that drew prospectors from all over the nation.
The town was also a stop on the Oregon Trail, and even Mark Twain wrote about his visit to South Pass City.
There was a hotel, a tavern, a blacksmith shop and pretty much everything else you needed for a stay Rocky Mountain mining country.
One South Pass family, the Bartletts, had opened up a small Inn, where they hosted travelers coming through the city.
If these visitors were on their way back east, they often had some gold with them.
These are the poor, unfortunate souls that might have met their death at the hands of young Polly Bartlett.
You see, the family had obtained a quantity of arsenic, under the guise of controlling the rodents that made their guests uncomfortable.
What the arsenic was actually used for is an entirely different story.
You see, Polly Bartlett had gotten word of travelers coming back through South Pass with gold and money in their possession. Her greed got the best of her, and she began poisoning the men that stayed overnight. One prospector, heading back home, stopped at Bartlett's for the night. He asked Polly to make him a steak and offered her $10 for her trouble. It proved to be a fatal mistake. Many other men - Tim Flaherty from Omaha, Edmund Ford from South Pass itself - disappeared after a stay at the Bartlett Inn.
Eventually, their boldness caught up with them. One young man, Barney Fortune, disappeared after staying the night. This drew the Pinkertons out to investigate the string of disappearances.
With the law on their tail, the Bartlett Family fled town.
Once the detectives realized they were on the lam, a $13,000 reward was put on their heads. It didn't take long for a former cop to shoot Mr. Bartlett in a duel, and Polly was arrested and held in Atlantic City Jail. While she awaited trial, one of Barney Fortune's friends shot her right through the window of the jail cell - ending the case once and for all.
Shortly after Polly's death, investigators found 22 bodies buried at the Bartlett Ranch.
Today, the town is a tourist destination, and only a few souls still keep South Pass as their address.
You can tour the Carissa Mine and visit the South Pass Mercantile shop, but as you stroll the town's main street, be sure to keep in mind those who were never able to leave.
Throughout Wyoming, you'll find historians who call the tale of Polly Bartlett and Wyoming's first serial killing spree an urban legend.
However, those who've walked the streets of South Pass City, and who have seen the former Bartlett Inn, will find themselves with a sinking feeling in their stomach as they make up their own minds about what truly happened in this eerie ghost town.
South Pass City isn’t the only ghost town in Wyoming, and if you take a look at some of
these other abandoned towns, you might find yourself wondering what other uncovered history may be hiding in the hills.