SILVER CITY DISTRICT
The Silver City district is in the western tip of Lyon County, in T. 16 N., R. 21 E.
The lode mines of this district are in the southern extension of the mineralized area of the Comstock Lode district. In addition to the lode mining of the district, there have been numerous placer operations which date back to the original discoveries.
The history of the Silver City district is intimately intertwined with that of the Comstock Lode district and is a vivid and brawling episode in the development of the West. In 1849 gold was first found in Nevada in what was later to be the Silver City district by a party of California-bound Mormons who happened to pan the gravels in Gold Canyon. For the next 10 years the placers were worked, and as they were worked out, the miners searched the hills for gold-bearing veins. These searches led to the discoveries near Silver City and later to the main Comstock Lode itself at Gold Hill and Ophir Ravine.
The Silver City district was always in the shadow of the great Comstock Lode, and although it was a steady producer, it never achieved the status of its neighbor. Gianella (1936, p. 18) stated that the total production of the district is indeterminable because so much has been included with the Comstock data. Couch and Carpenter (1943, p. 93-94) recorded a total mineral production from 1871 through 1940 of $12,740,785, but the amount of this apportioned to gold is not known. Placer production data for more recent years is available. Vanderburg (1936a, p. 112) listed a production of 14,625 ounces of placer gold from 1920 to 1923. The largest reported placer production for the district was from 1941 to 1943 when $1,115,752 in bullion was mined (Stoddard and Carpenter, 1950, p. 81). In this operation, the largest dragline and floating washer plant on record was used. Total recorded gold production for the district through 1959 was about 190,000 ounces.
The oldest rocks in the district are limestone, shale, and schist of possible Triassic age. These rocks have been folded and deformed and are unconformably overlain by Triassic metavolcanics about 1,000 feet thick. Quartz monzonite, similar to that in the Sierra Nevada, intruded the Triassic rocks in Late Jurassic time. A thick series of volcanic rocksandesite, rhyolite, basalt, breccia, and tuff of early Tertiary age overlies the older rocks. During late Miocene time or post-Miocene time, the Tertiary rocks were faulted and mineralized (Gianella, 1936, p. 32-35). The early Tertiary rocks are overlain by a series of Pliocene (?) and Pleistocene lavas, breccias, and agglomerates. Later movement occurred along the early faults, some of it in comparatively recent time.
The important veins of the district are in fissures and faults. The principal vein, the Silver City vein, occupies a fault closely parallel to Gold Canyon and is a southern branch of the Comstock Lode (Gianella, 1936, p. 88-89). The gangue of the Silver City vein is quartz and calcite. The ore minerals are pyrite, gold, silver, electrum, argentite, and minor chalcopyrite. The sulfides make up only 1 or 2 percent of the veinfillings (Gianella, 1936, p. 92).
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