Willow Creek 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

Willow Creek District (Nye County)


Other Names: Nyala, Quinn Canyon

County: Nye

Discovered: 1911

Commodities: gold, silver, lead


Original locations in the Willow Creek district were made in the area of Willow Creek and Gold Canyons on the west side of the Quinn Canyon Range, near the present settlement of Nyala in Railroad Valley. This area, along with the Quinn Canyon fluorite district and the Sharp district on the east side of the range, was included by Kral (1951) and Kleinhampl and Ziony (1984) in a large Willow Creek district covering most of the southern Quinn Canyon Range.


Hill, 1916, p. 144; Lincoln, 1923, p. 198; Stoddard, 1932, p. 73; Lotz, 1934, p. 23; Kral, 1951, p. 212; Tingley, 1984, p. 44; Bonham, 1976; Wong, 1982, table 1; Kleinhampl and Ziony, 1984, p. 227; Stager and Tingley, 1988, p. 155

Willow Creek District (Pershing County)


Other Names: Yellowstone, Czar

County: Pershing

Discovered: 1865

Commodities: gold, silver


Located along Willow Creek and Spaulding Canyons. The Spaulding Canyon area is sometimes included in the Sierra district to the north. Perry’s 1865 map shows a Czar district located immediately south of the Oro Fino (Sierra) district, in the area of the present Willow Creek district.


Perry, 1865; U.S. Geological Survey, 1910, p. 519; Bonham, 1976; Johnson, 1977, p. 103

Willow Creek Placer District Description


West flank of the East Range, Tps. 31 and 32 N., R. 36 E.

Topographic Maps

Dun Glen 15-minute quadrangle.

Geologic Maps

Ferguson, Muller, and Roberts, 1951b, Geology of the Winnemucca quadrangle, Nevada, scale 1:125,000.


From Lovelock, 46 miles north on Interstate 80 to Mill City; from there, dirt roads lead southeast about 12 miles to placers near the headwaters of Willow Creek.


Placers have been worked near the headwaters of Willow Creek, west of the crest of the East Range (sees. 2 and 11, T. 31 N., R. 36 E.) Some placers may have been worked farther downstream where the creek trends east-west (sees. 32-35, T. 32 N., R. 36 E.). The gold is apparently concentrated in channel fill of varying widths near bedrock and is overlain by alluvium. In the SE1/4 sec. 11, in the upper part of Willow Creek where the three headward forks join to form the main creek, the overburden is from 15 to 30 feet thick.

Production History

Most placer activity took place between 1938 and 1964. Activity was concentrated at the Wadley placer mine (S1/2 sec. 11, T. 31 N., R. 36 E.) and the Thacker placer mine (N1/2 sec. 2, T. 31 N., R. 36 E.) . Small earth-moving equipment was used to deliver the gravels to a central washing plant. In 1949 and 1950, Wallace Calder mined gravels containing $1.85 and 24 cents in gold per cubic yard at the Wadley mine. Dragline operations were carried on during the period 1959-60 in the north-south-trending part of the creek between the Thacker and Wadley placer mines.

Actual production from the Willow Creek placers is substantially higher than indicated by the recorded production of 2,823 ounces. For many years, placer production was included with that from the Imlay district and probably also with that from the Sierra district.


Gold-bearing calcite and quartz veins exposed near the headwaters of Willow Creek are, at least in part, the source of the placer gold in Willow Creek. Both the Wadley and Thacker mines are in gravels mapped as older alluvium of Quaternary age that form small basins in the upper part of Willow Creek. These gravels represent remnants of gravel deposition from an earlier erosion cycle, and the gold found under the thick overburden was probably deposited at the earliest stage of the cycle.


Ferguson and others, 1 95 1 : Notes mining activity in Willow Creek source of placer gold.

Mining Journal, 1939a: Reports plans to use small dragline at Willow Creek.

Southern Pacific Company, 1964: Locates placers in Willow Creek; depth of overburden; states that the area warrants further investigation.

U.S. Bureau of Mines, 1938-63: Placer-mining activity at Willow Creek; some years give amount of gravel treated and ounces of gold and silver recovered; names placer claims.

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