Battle Mountain District

Publication Info:
Nevada Mining Districts (Compiled Reports)
The Districts Described in This Section are from the following publications:

Mining Districts of Nevada - Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Report 47 (updated 1998); Placer Gold Deposits of Nevada - USGS Bulletin 1356 (1973)

Table of Contents


Other Names: Galena, Bannock, Limelite, Telluride, Copper Basin, Copper Canyon, Cottonwood Creek, Rocky Canyon

County: Lander and Humboldt

Discovered: 1866

Organized: 1867

Commodities: copper, gold, silver, antimony, lead, zinc, tungsten, molybdenum, arsenic, turquoise, nickel


All of this district was originally in Humboldt County. A change in county boundaries placed the major portion in Lander County and only a small part, 10 miles west of Battle Mountain, remains in Humboldt County. The north section of the district, including Copper Basin, the old camp of Battle Mountain, and Cottonwood Creek is sometimes considered to be Battle Mountain district proper. The south section including Galena, on Duck Creek, Copper Canyon, and Bannock is sometimes called the Galena or Bannock district.

The Limelite district, discovered in the summer of 1909, was in the vicinity of Philadelphia Canyon. The town of Bannock was established in the fall of 1909 to serve the district. The camp of Telluride (1910) is at the head of Rocky Canyon, southwest of Antler Peak.


White, 1869, p. 42; Whitehill, 1873, p. 45 Whitehill, 1875, p. 60; Angel, 1881, p. 474; Hill, 1912, p. 215-216; Lincoln, 1923, p. 106; Stoddard, 1932, p. 48; Lotz, 1934, p. 20; Vanderburg, 1939, p. 18; Lawrence, 1963, p. 89; Willden, 1964, table 6; Stewart and others, 1977, p. 66; Schilling, 1980; Stager and Tingley, 1988, p. 98; Hall, 1994, p. 64

Placer District Description


North, east, and south slopes of Battle Mountain, south of the Humboldt River and northwest of the Reese River, Tps. 31 and 32 N., Rs. 43 and 44 E.

Topographic Maps

Antler Peak 15-minute quadrangle.

Geologic Maps

Roberts and Arnold, 1965, Geologic map of the Antler Peak quadrangle, Humboldt and Lander Counties, Nevada (pi. 1), scale 1 : 62,500 ; Geologic map of the southeastern part of the Antler Peak quadrangle, Nevada, showing metamorphic zones and location of mines (pi. 3), scale 1:31,680; Copper Canyon fan (pi. 19), scale 1:9,600.


Highway 8a leads southwest from Battle Mountain (town) on U.S. Highway 40 to mining areas around the flanks of the Battle Mountain Range; light-duty and dirt roads lead from the main high- way to placer areas.


Placers occur in many gulches that drain the north, east, and south slopes of Battle Mountain and in alluvial fans formed at the range front. The most productive placers are concentrated near two bedrock areas characterized by high copper-gold-silver metallization spatially and genetically related to centers of Tertiary intrusions. The placer area near the south flank of the range is bounded by Copper Canyon and Galena Canyon and includes placers in these drainages and in Box, Philadelphia, and Iron Canyons.

The second placer area is in the Copper Basin lode area and includes Long Canyon and its tributaries, Licking Creek and Vail Canyon. Other placers are found on the north flank of the range, near small intrusive bodies at Snow and Piute Gulches, and in Elder Canyon. Some gold was recovered from Rocky, Willow, and Cottonwood Creeks outside the main placer areas.

In general, the gold is found in the lower gravel layers of alluvialfans, terrace gravels, and valley fill within the range ("older alluvium" of Quaternary age; Roberts, 1964b). This debris was eroded during an earlier, comparatively better watered, stage of the erosional cycle that shaped Battle Mountain.

The placers in the gulches occur in channels along bedrock and in terrace gravels and slope wash on the sides of the canyons; the main gold-bearing channels are buried by as much as 40-50 feet of rela- tively barren gravels or soils. Placers on the north side of Philadelphia Canyon occur in gravels overlain by basalts that are considered to be of late Tertiary or early Quaternary age.

The placers in the alluvial fan at the mouth of Copper Canyon (the most productive placer area) occur in lower gravel layers that are characterized by a higher degree of roundness, sorting, and washing than the overlying fan gravels, which are relatively unsorted, unwashed, and barren. Within these lower gravels, the gold occurs in channels, sheetlike bodies, and lenses having different concentrations in different horizons.

Gold is found throughout most of the lower gravels (as much as 200 ft thick in the southern part of the fan), but a few gravel lenses are barren. The high-grade gravels occur in channels at bedrock near the head of the fan and in discrete lenses erratically distributed in the lower part of the fan. (See Roberts and Arnold, 1965, for detailed descriptions of gravel depth and value at individual placers.)

Production History

The lode deposits in the Battle Mountain area have been worked since 1866, but the placers apparently were not worked until 1909, when the discovery of rich gold lodes and associated placers near the mouth of Philadelphia Canyon stimulated a rush to this area, then called Bannock. Within 5 years, many of the other placers in the district were discovered and worked.

Lack of water and the great depth of pay gravels were problems frequently encountered in small-scale mining of the placers. The early work was mainly drifting and sluicing of deep gravels in Copper Canyon and other canyons in the district. The most productive periods were 1913-22, 1932-39, and 1947-55. Throughout these periods, the placers in Copper Canyon and in the Copper Canyon fan have been the most continuously worked and most productive deposits, but production from the other placers has been considerable. (See Roberts and Arnold 1965, for production data attributed to the different placers.)

The most productive operation in the district was that by the Natomas Co. (1947-55), which dredged a triangular area about 3,200 feet long and about 2,800 feet wide at the base, from the mouth of Copper Canyon down the fan (sec. 33, T. 31 N., R. 43 E.). The company used a dragline dredge to work the upper part of the fan between 1947 and 1948 and a large bucket-line dredge, capable of digging hrough 15 feet of gravel at the bottom of an 85-foot-deep pond, to work the downslope part of the fan between 1949 and 1955. Production attributed to this operation is partly confidential, but probably amounts to about 100,000 ounces in total.


The placers in the Battle Mountain district are derived from lode deposits within the three areas of copper-gold-silver metallization present in the district. Gold is present in varying amounts in all the base-metal deposits. Metallization in the district is genetically associated with the intrusion of porphyritic quartz monzonite bodies, which at Copper Canyon are dated at 38 m.y. (Oligocene).

The size, degree of roundness, and fineness, gold-silver ratio) of the placer gold and the lithology of the gold-bearing gravels indicate that the gold in the different gulches and alluvial fans was derived from lode sources close to the individual placers.


Hill, 1915: Locates some placer workings; distribution of gold in gravels; richest areas of placer accumulation.

Huttl, 1950a: Details of dredge operation at Copper Canyon fan; depth of dredge pond and depth of gravel excavated; source of water and electricity for dredge.

Luther, 1950: Brief history of placer-mining activity at Copper Canyon placers. Detailed description of Natomas dredge operations at Copper Canyon; details of dredge construction and methods of placer mining.

Martin, 1910: Placer operations in 1910; size of placer gold recovered; describes lode mines at Bannock.

Mining World, 1940: Purchase price paid by Natomas to J. O. Greenan for placer area; depth of pay gravel; average value per cubic yard; plans for dredging.

Roberts, 1964b: Sections "Quaternary System" and "Geomorphology" pertain to origin and deposition of gravels that in many places contain economic concentrations of gold.

Roberts and Arnold, 1965: Detailed descriptions of placer areas at Battle Mountain. History of placer mining during the period 1910-55; scattered production data for selected placers; describes extent, lithology, depth, gold distribution, size and fineness, and average grade of individual placers; source of gold in gravels; describes details of lode mines from which placers have been derived.

Silberman and McKee, 1971: Dates intrusive rocks in Battle Mountain district. Southern Pacific Company, 1964: Locates Copper Canyon placer; brief history of mining; average grade of gravel mined by bucket-line dredge during the period 1947-55; depth of high-grade gravels.

Theodore and Roberts, 1971: Reports trace-element concentration in placer gold from Iron Canyon placer and isotopic composition of lead contained in placer gold. Concludes that placer gold was de- rived from lode source within the zone of introduced pyrite.

Vanderburg, 1936a: Names placer gulches; early history of placer mining; estimate of placer production during the period 1910-35; describes Copper Canyon placers; size and fineness of gold recovered from gravels; details of placer-mining methods at individual placer properties at Copper Canyon in 1930's; source.

1939: Describes depth, value, gold distribution, and size at Iron Canyon, Vail placer, and Copper Canyon deposits; summarizes placer-mining methods.

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