Oak Spring, Olinghouse, Opalite Districts

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

Oak Spring District


Other Names: Oak Springs, Climax

County: Nye

Discovered: 1905

Commodities: tungsten, molybdenum, gold, silver, copper, lead


The Oak Spring district is on the southern edge of the Belted Range, north of Yucca Flat. The district includes the Climax tungsten mine and other workings near Oak Spring Butte on the southeastern flank of the Belted Range and extends to the southeast to include workings southeast of Groom Pass in the Halfpint Range. In the earliest reference to this district, Ball (1906) used the name Oak Spring.


Ball, 1906, p. 70; Ball, 1907, p. 128; Hill, 1912, p. 223; Lincoln, 1923, p. 178; Stoddard, 1932, p. 70; Gianella, 1945, p. 135; Kral, 1951, p. 138; Cornwall, 1972, p. 39; Bonham, 1976; Schilling, 1976; Stager and Tingley, 1988, p. 144; Tingley, 1989b, p. 7

Olinghouse District


Other Names: White Horse, Red Rock

County: Washoe

Discovered: 1860

Organized: 1899

Commodities: gold, silver, copper, lead, tungsten


The Olinghouse district is located in the eastern Pah Rah Range about 7 miles northwest of the town of Wadsworth. The district extends from the Truckee River Canyon on the south to Big Mouth Canyon on the north. The district was originally known as White Horse (organized in 1899); the townsite name was Olinghouse. In 1896, the southern portion of this district, located on the north side of the Truckee Canyon, was known as the Red Rock district.


Hill, 1912, p. 226; Lincoln, 1923, p. 240; Stoddard, 1932, p. 85; Overton, 1947, p. 70; Bonham, 1969, p. 72; Paher, 1970, p. 38; Bonham, 1976; Stager and Tingley, 1988, p. 202, Washoe County Mining Records, Book B, p. 402

Olinghouse Placer District Description


East flank of the Pah Rah Range, T. 21 N., R. 23 E.

Topographic Maps

Wadsworth 15-minute quadrangle.

Geologic Maps

Bonham, 1969, Geologic map of Washoe and Storey Counties, scale 1:250,000.


From Reno, 32 miles east on Interstate 80 to Wadsworth; from there, 3 miles north on State Highway 34 to dirt road in Olinghouse Canyon leading 6 miles west to mining area.


Gold placers are found in an alluvial basin about 1 mile long and 1/2 mile wide and in a tributary ravine north of Olinghouse Canyon and south of Green Hill in the main lode mining area of the district (sees. 20-29, T. 21 N., R. 23 E.). Gold-bearing placers also occur at the edge of the range near Frank Free Canyon east of Green Hill (sec. 27, T. 21 N., R. 23 E.) and Tiger Canyon north of Green Hill (sec. 21, T. 21 N., R. 23 E.).

The gravels in the alluvial basin and tributary ravine average about 20 feet deep. The gold is concentrated in the lowermost 5—6 feet of gravel above bedrock. Along the south and east margins of Green Hill, the placers are eluvial, whereas those in drainages from Green Hill are alluvial deposits transported 1 mile or more. Near the edge of the range at Frank Free Canyon, shafts and churn drills sampled gravels to a depth of 75 feet that assayed 8, 23, and 94 cents per cubic yard.

Production History

The placers in the Olinghouse district were extensively worked between 1860 and 1900 and were said to produce considerable gold, but no authentic records of placer gold production are known. The total placer and lode-gold production of the district before 1900 has been estimated at about $218,000, although some estimates indicate as much as $500,000. During the 20th century, the Olinghouse placers have been worked almost continuously, but mostly on a small scale. The rich gravels were reached by drifts concentrated in the center of the alluvial basin, where they apparently follow a channel to the south towards Olinghouse Canyon.

In a flat part of the alluvial basin (approximately north edge of sec. 29), a small dragline dredge worked the gravels in 1965 by digging a square pit about 15 feet deep, then floating the dredge in the water-filled pit and back-filling with tailings. The operation was not successful because of difficulty in keeping water in the pit. Another operation dredged gravels during the period 1963-64 in the tributary ravine (east side of the road to the mining area, center sec. 29).


Small gold-bearing quartz and calcite veins in the andesites and intrusive granodiorite porphyry (Miocene and Pliocene) at Green Hill are the source of the placer gold. The gravels in which the gold is found consist mostly of subangular andesite and basalt debris derived from the adjacent hillsides.


Bonham, 1969: History; placer-mining activity during the period 1963-65; distribution of placers; describes details of lode mines.

Engineering and Mining Journal, 1897d: Reports production of $207 in gold from 12 tons of placer gravel in Olinghouse Canyon.

Hill, 1911: Estimate of lode and placer production; describes lode mines.

Overton, 1947: Describes lode deposits; source of placer gold; placer- mining activity in 1937.

Southern Pacific Company, 1964: Locates area for future exploration; value of gold per cubic yard in samples.

U.S. Bureau of Mines, 1963-64: Describes placer operations with drag- line dredge; names placer claims.

Vanderburg, 1936a: Early placer-mining history; placer-mining operations in 1935; location of these operations; depth of placer gravel; size of gravels; fineness and size of gold; source, methods of mining; average value of gravel.

Opalite District


Other Names: Cordero, McDermitt

County: Humboldt

Discovered: 1924


Commodities: mercury


The Opalite district is located on the north central border of Humboldt County, and extends north into southern Malheur County, Oregon. The original district was centered around the Bretz Mine (discovered in 1917), north of the state line in Oregon. The Cordero deposit, located to the southeast in Humboldt County, Nevada, was discovered in 1924. The district in Nevada was originally named McDermitt for the town of that name. The Opalite district is now considered to include all of the area in both states.


Vanderburg, 1938a, p. 30; Gianella, 1945, p. 73; Bailey and Phoenix, 1944, p. 95; Willden, 1964, p. 132; Wong, 1982, table 1

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