Column: Tom Willis at White
Pine Mining District in Eastern Nevada!
Tom Willis, September 6, 2012—This trip takes us to
eastern Nevada near Ely and the White Pine Mining District. The trail begins at U.S. Highway 50, 35 miles west of
Ely or 41 miles east of Eureka. Watch for the highway sign that identifies the road to Hamilton. (There is also a
historical marker nearby for Hamilton.)
Camping is available
at Illipah Creek Reservoir on the south side of U.S. Highway 50. There is a small BLM campground on the north end of this small lake, with
room for RVs but no facilities other than pit toilets and a dumpster for trash.
Most of this trail is within the Ely District of the
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. As of this writing, all of the trails covered here are open. Visit the
Humboldt-Toiyabe NF website to obtain an up-to-date Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM).
A significant portion
of the mining district is private lands, and the trails are not managed by the Forest Service. These are “open”
trails, though not displayed on the MVUM.
I use the BLM “ Mt.Hamilton” Surface Management map of the area along with the
MVUM. Remember, when traveling over Forest Service lands, you must stay on
the designated trails.
and old mill sites on the trip include Belmont Mill, Eberhardt, Hamilton, Shermantown, and Treasure City. Silver
was discovered near Treasure City in 1865, and by 1869 there were approximately 25,000 people in the area. More
than 10,000 mining claims were filed in the district by 1870. Most of the silver ore was mined out by the late
1880s, although mining continued on a small scale into the 1920s.
through these five sites is approximately 52 miles. Each of the access trails is designated as “open to all
vehicles”. With most of the trails above 7,000 feet, the routes are usually open by mid- to late
June. Part of the route travels over the Lincoln Highway, which is still a dirt road today. Along
the way, you will find five towns and mill sites, with a large number of old mines and prospects throughout
the area. Many of these mines and prospects are still accessible via miner’s roads.
was built in 1925 to serve the Belmont Mine. Ore moved to the mill via a tramway. The mill and
tramway are in very good shape considering their age. Be very careful if you try to explore the interior of
the mill building. Areas of the wood structure
cannot support your weight…This was the last major mining effort in the White Pine
shows signs of recent occupants, with a large metal building at the site of the town. The structure, likely
erected by a mining company, sets near remnants of the original town. You will find a fair-sized
cemetery and a brick structure near the newer building. The brick building is purportedly part of the
ruins at Shermantown and Treasure City are limited. Unfortunately, most of the Eberhardt ruins were eliminated
by a wildfire in more recent years.
considered, this is a great trip, especially if you have an interest in old mining towns and
Tom Willis lives at northern Nevada. Tom has been involved in all aspects of Off Highway Vehicle (OHV)
activities for the past 40 years. He has written and published three guidebooks, covering off-pavement travel and
activities in the Nevada and California deserts. Over the last eight years alone, Tom Willis has traveled more than
10,000 miles off pavement. Much of that travel has been research for his popular
Tom notes that people
have been exploring the Far West for almost 250 years, and virtually any place worth visiting has an established
trail access! Dedicated to the principles of Tread Lightly, Tom Willis encourages folks to take plenty of pictures
and leave only tire tracks on existing trails. When a destination does involve a short walk, Tom suggests that
exercise will probably do us all some good!
contributions to this corner of the magazine are about places to see, trails to drive and developments that affect
OHV recreation in the western United States. His trail-based articles are destination oriented or “loop” trips, and
Tom often talks about things you should know to make your explorations more