By A. H. KOSCHMANN and M. H. BERGENDAHL - USGS 1968
Churchill County, in the northern Great Basin, is characterized by many elongate, narrow mountain ranges separated by flat, relatively narrow valleys. Dry or seasonal lakes, the larger of which are in Humboldt and Carson sinks, occupy some of these valleys.
Churchill County, created in 1861, was one of the nine original counties in the State. In later years, parts of the county were used to form Lander, Lyon, and Nye Counties.
Settlers, drawn west by the lure of California gold, crossed Nevada by two main routes, both of which passed through Churchill County. The hot, dry areas occupied by Humboldt and Carson sinks were not inviting; consequently, few people lingered, and the mineral deposits of the county remained undiscovered for some time.
In the early 1860's discoveries were made at Silver Hill, Mountain Well, and Clan Alpine (Browne and Taylor, 1867, p. 128), but it is doubtful that any significant production was achieved.
The discovery at Tonopah, in Nye and Esmeralda Counties in 1900, generated considerable activity, and prospectors overflowed into Churchill County. Discoveries were made at Fairview and Wonder in the early 1900's, and these soon became the most productive gold- and silver-producing areas in the county.
Records of production before 1904 are incomplete, but the value of gold mined from 1890 to 1903 was estimated at $32,300 (about 1,600 ounces). From 1904 to 1937, a total of 12 ounces of placer gold and 123,537 ounces of lode gold was mined in the county (Vanderburg, 1940, p. 10-13). Total gold production through 1959 was 164,605 ounces.
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