The Cedar Mountains of Nevada are part of the vast Basin and Range Province of North America. This physiographic province consists of a series of north-south trending mountain ranges separated by deep, alluvium-filled basins. The Basin and Range Province is a product of the tensional forces that are literally pulling the continent apart. A shaded relief map of Nevada dramatically illustrates the effect that plate tectonics has on surface topography. In this case, the rifting of the continent has produced a wrinkled and broken landscape of parallel mountain ranges separated by downthrown, graben-like valleys.
The Cedar Mountains are a small, highly weathered range that rises up from the remote desert valleys of west-central Nevada. The range is dominated by two peaks, Simon Mountain (elevation: 7302 feet) and Little Pilot Peak (elevation: 8082 feet). The uplifted core of the Cedar Mountains consists of a late Mesozoic to early Tertiary granitic pluton bounded on the north and south by older Mesozoic sedimentary and volcanic rocks. This granitic
intrusion dominates the northern half of the Cedar Mountains. The southern half of the range consists mostly of younger welded and nonwelded silicic ash-flow tuffs and minor rhyolite flows. Some exposures of andesite flows and breccias occur in the area near Dicalite Summit. The restless nature of the Basin and Range portion of the continent is demonstrated by the great number of faults that crisscross the area. The Cedar Mountains are no exception. The northwestern edge of the range contains several fault zones.
Ore deposits in the Cedar Mountains are meager and consist of two types, replacement bodies and hydrothermal veins. The first consists of silver, lead, and zinc ores hosted in Triassic limestones, while the second is made up of gold and silver-bearing quartz veins in volcanic rock. Native gold from the Cedar Mountains is only about 12 carat and quite limited in extent. Total gold production from the entire district was about 34,000 ounces.
The Cedar Mountains are literally surrounded by rich mining districts. The town of Goldyke and the rich mines of the Paradise Range are located only 12 miles north of the Cedar Mountains. The richly mineralized Shoshone Mountains rise up only 16 miles northeast of the Cedars. Forty miles to the east lies the Toquima Range. The southern end of the Toquima Range is wonderfully mineralized with three major mining districts clustered in the area. These include Manhattan, Round Mountain, and Belmont. The incredibly rich silver and gold deposits of the Tonopah District are located 45 miles southeast of the Cedar Mountains, on the other side of Big Smoky Valley. Southwest of the Cedars, the richly mineralized Excelsior Mountains are home to the Gold Range District. This gold and silver district produced over 100,000 ounces of gold during its heyday. And finally, twenty miles west of the Cedar Mountains, the rich Garfield District lies sprawling across the Garfield Hills.
The Cedar Mountains themselves are home to two small mining efforts, both of which spawned short-lived mining camps. The earliest operations were centered around the silver and lead deposits near the old mining town of Simon. Nearly a million dollars worth of ore was gleaned from the mines near Simon. In 1915, gold was discovered on the northern edge of the Cedar Mountains, near the site of Omco. The Omco deposits yielded $700,000 worth of gold ore before their depletion in 1921.
Prospectors may want to concentrate on the northern portion of the range in their search for the lost Tim Cody ledge. Paradise Peak is clearly visible from this part of the range and the area has a history of gold production. The northwestern edge of the range contains several fault zones. These are certainly candidates for prospecting. Prospectors may also want to focus on the local limestone formations, especially those in close proximity to the igneous intrusion. Limestones make excellent host rocks for the emplacement of ore bodies. Finally, the volcanic portion of the Cedar Mountains should not be overlooked. Gold and silver-bearing quartz veins have been found in some of the older volcanic rocks in the range. Prospectors should probably avoid the areas overlain by ash-flow tuffs as these pyroclastics are notoriously barren of mineral deposits.