|Westgate (Churchill Co.)|
39° 17' 39"N, 118° 04' 06"W - WEST GATE QUAD
|VISITED||We Visited: March 2003 and January 31, 2015
Our Breakfast: Omelets at Courtyard Cafe & Bakery, Fallon
Our Lunch: Burgers at Middlegate Station, the one station we have no trouble locating
|DIRECTIONS|| East out of Fallon on Highway 50- pass Dixie Valley Road and travel 5.3 miles east- Mill is on north side of highway
From Fallon: 45.2 miles
Westgate began as a stop on the pony Express, or so some say, and was later a mill site. It was also the site of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp during the Depression. The National Park Service says,
"Bishop and Henderson identify West Gate as a station between Middle Gate and Sand Springs. According to John Townley, from West Gate, the trail split into a northern and southern route. Pony riders used the southern route, which continued on a relatively straight course through Sand Springs, Carson Sink, Hooten Wells, Buckland's, and Fort Churchill, until sometime between March and July 1861. After these months, the Overland Mail Company added a route ran northwest of the old Pony trail and included such new stations as Fairview, Mountain Well, Stillwater, Old River, Ragtown, and Desert Wells. Stagecoaches could travel more easily along the northern route, and riders may or may not have switched to the new trail during the waning months of the Pony Express. The two routes joined again near Miller's or Reed's Station. Richard Burton only mentions West Gate as a geographical location rather than a station. "
The [Lincoln] highway continues through a broad valley to WESTGATE, 214 m. (4600 alt) now a CCC camp, whose members preserve water holes and do other range conservation work. On both sides of Westgate are mountains covered with sagebrush.
Some descriptions of the CCC Camp G-124, Company 1915:
At a 1941 CCC national defense conference at the Presidio in San Francisco, Improvement Supervisor Thomas Woodnut Miller openly discussed how grazing camp enrolles were being trained in vocations useful to the war effort. By now, full-time radio schools had been established at Camps Minden and Las Vegas, a full-time automotive school was set up in Mason Valley, and a central repair shop was built in reno. Other defense-related training included a carpentry shop at Camp Westgate and a school of engineering at the Camp Idlewild range survey headquarters.
Some camps had special sports facilities. Camp Quinn River constructed a six hole golf course that was the pride of the camp. Other camps, including Indian Springs and Westgate, had swimming pools used by enrollees and visitors alike. Most camps had ping-pong tables, horseshoes, and various table games. Skills taught in the camp included leather working, photography, and carpentry. Current movies rotated among the camps and were shown weekly on 35mm projectors. For the more studious, camp libraries were stocked with books and newspapers from the company's home town. Through grants, the WPA extended library services by distributing books to isolated communities as well as CCC camps.
CHURCHILL CCC CAMPS RATE TOP
52 YEARS LATER, MEMORIES OF CCC ARE STILL PRECISE
Now, 52 years later, he recalls those days in the summer of 1938 with preciseness. The South Salt Laker says he spent the best six months of his life at age 17 getting to know more than 60 teenagers who became his best friends.He was bonded to Civilian Conservation Corps leaders and 60 other enrollees with friendship, brotherhood and love. "It was like one big family. We got to be wonderful friends."
The CCC began in 1933 as one of the Depression recovery projects of President Roosevelt. "It was a lot like the Army but we didn't have to drill," he says. "Our job was to preserve nature and keep the guys working. We went in to have something to eat. It was Depression time and we were all facing difficult situations." The government needed to create a program for the increasing number of teenagers who roamed the streets looking for jobs and food and money to bring to their families. Each CCC enrollee earned $30 a month, Bradford recalls. CCC officials sent $22 to the enrollee's family and gave each enrollee $8. Money was used sparingly and carefully. They budgeted with detail and never wasted, he says.
Bradford joined the CCCs in July 1938 and was sent to Company 1915 at the Charles Sheldon Antelope Refuge in the northwest corner of Nevada, 28 miles from the Oregon border. It's volcano country, where water comes out of the ground hot. The men stayed in the desert from July 14 to Oct. 19, then were put on open trucks to Winnemucca, where they caught a train to Fallon, Nev., about 46 miles west of Westgate, Nev., where 184 of them worked. The only thing at Westgate was a service station with slot machines that also sold sandwiches. "We were too young to play the slots but sometimes would sneak over and play anyway." One incident at Westgate Bradford won't forget is when one of the men who had experience with beehives found a hive and brought honey into camp. "The next morning we had honey for our pancakes instead of gravy. For some reason, the honey was poisoned. I would see one guy heading for the dispensary, then another. All of a sudden it hit me hard in the gut. The doctor had us drink water and baking soda.
"They discharged us on Dec. 21, after we put in six months. A lot of the guys stayed in and they moved them to areas in Utah. I got out - that was enough. I stayed out for six months, until July 5, 1939, then went in again.
Vanderburg describes the mill operations:
"In February 1939, the Westgate Mining & Milling Co., owned by E. S. Montgomery of Fallon and associates, completed the erection of a 35-ton-daily-capacity cyanidation mill at Westgate, situated on tne Lincoln Highway [present-day Highway 50] 46 miles southeasterly from Fallon, Nev. In April 1939 the mill was operating on custom ores, obtained chiefly from the Nevada Wonder mine with smaller tonnages from the Nevada Hills mine at Fairview, the Gold Ledge mine in the Eastgate district, and other properties within a radius of 50 miles. The mill is equipped with a 9- by 15-inch Blake-type crusher a set of 22- by 12-inch Denver rolls, three Snyder disk samplers, a 4- by 4-foot Eimco ball mill, a Simplex classifier, three 10- by 12-foot redwood airlift agitators, four 18- by 10-foot redwood thickeners, a 4- by 7-foot 20-leaf clarifier, a Merrill-Crowe zinc dust-precipitating unit, and auxiliary cyanidation apparatus. Other equipment includes an assay office, a melting furnace, and camp accommodations for a crew of 10 men. Power for milling is supplied by 2 D-11,000 Caterpillar Diesel engines equipped with electric generators. Water for milling is obtained from a well near the millsite. The custom-milling charge is $4.50 per ton, and payment is based on an average extraction of 90 percent of the gold and 85 percent of the silver contained in the ores."(Vanderburg, RoMDICCN)
Other contemporary descriptions regarding the mill and mining operations in the area:
Nothing is known of the mining history of this area. (F.C. Lincoln (Mining Districts and Mineral resources of Nevada 1923, p.130)) states that silver-lead-gold ore was produced in the district in 1915 but does not elaborate on the source or the amount. A custom mill was erected on the point ot the range north of the highway in 1939 and operated for a time on ores obtained from the nearby Wonder and Fairview districts (Venderburg, 1940, p.29) This milling operation left tailings and building foundations that give the false impression that Westgate was an important source of ore. Road building and drilling has been done in the area north of the highway, east of the old custom mill area sometime within the last 10-15 years. The object of this work is not clear, however, and the district is inactive at the present time.
In 1939 the Westgate Mining and Milling Co completed a cyanidation mill at Westgate which could handle 35 tons per day. The mill operated on custom ores from the Nevada Wonder Mine, with smaller tonnages from Fairview's Nevada Hills Mine, Eastgate's Gold Ledge Mine, and many other claims within 50 miles of the mill.
January 3, 1941 Westgate Mining and Milling Corp, Churchill County, was instructed to put guardrails around all gears, tanks, motors, and catwalks and to put rope in bin for men picking down bins to hang on.
Nothing much else ever came of the site, according to Shamberger:
"In May 1907 the townsite plat of West Gate... was filed in the Churchill County Recorder's office. While there is no doubt some productive mining occurred around West Gate, it probably remained as little more than a water supply source for Fairview." (Shamberger, Historic Mining camps of Nevada-The Story of Fairview)
Westgate was interesting if for no other fact that you can still see the swimming pool. While we have our doubts this was ever a Pony Express Station, it will be remembered for three things-- being a CCC Camp, having a mill, and being a source of water for Fairview.
You could probably spend days or even weeks here combing the site. It's spread out over a wide area and there is historic debris everywhere you look.