Pah Rah Range

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Pah Rah Range
Gold from Olinghouse district
Highest point
Peak Virginia Peak
Elevation 2,547 m (8,356 ft)
Pah Rah Range is located in Nevada
Pah Rah Range
location of Pah Rah Range in Nevada [1]
Country United States
State Nevada
District Washoe County
Range coordinates 39°46′N 119°28′W / 39.76°N 119.46°W / 39.76; -119.46Coordinates: 39°46′N 119°28′W / 39.76°N 119.46°W / 39.76; -119.46
Topo map USGS Nixon, Wadsworth
and Spanish Springs Valley
15 minute quads

The Pah Rah Range is a mountain range located in western Nevada in Washoe County just to the northeast of Reno. It is a hook shaped range with the main eastern portion oriented northwest-southeast, approximately 20 miles (32 km) long. The northwest flowing Cottonwood Creek in Warm Springs Valley is bounded on three sides by the range. To the south and east the Truckee River forms the boundary and Pyramid Lake is at the northeast. Spanish Springs Valley north of Reno forms the southwest margin. To the north the narrow Mullen Pass separates the Pah Rah Range from the Virginia Mountains.

The highest peaks (in order from south to north) are Pond Peak (elevation 8,035 ft (2,449 m)),[2] Virginia Peak (elevation 8,357 ft (2,547 m)) and Pah Rah Peak (elevation 8,249 ft (2,514 m)).[3] In the southwest portion Spanish Springs Peak (elevation 7,404 ft (2,257 m)) is the highest.[4] Both Pond Peak and Virginia Peak host several radio towers. Virginia Peak is also the site of a doppler radar station.

Interstate 80 follows the Truckee River basin to the south of the range. Nevada State Route 445 follows the Spanish Springs Valley to the west of the range, Nevada State Route 446 crosses through Mullen Pass to the north and Nevada State Route 447 follows the lakeshore and the Truckee Valley on the east side of the range.[5]

The Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation occupies the eastern portion of the range.

"Pah Rah" is a Paiute term which translates roughly to "Lake Mountain" in reference to Pyramid Lake adjacent to the northeast margin of the range. This term applies to the Virginia Mountains better. This apparent mix-up is likely due to confusion on the part of the early surveyors of the region.[citation needed]

Olinghouse mining district[edit]

The former community and historic mining district of Olinghouse is located in the southeastern foothills of the Pah Rah Range about 8 miles (13 km) WNW of Wadsworth, Nevada and 2 miles (3.2 km) east of Pond Peak.[6] The mines of the district produced gold from placer deposits and veins associated with granite porphyry dikes in a faulted basaltic to andesitic volcanic terrain of Oligocene to Miocene age.[7] Mining for gold as collector's specimens occurred during the late 1990s and early 2000s.[7]

The district and the former town that served it were named for Elias Olinghouse who settled there and ran a mule team transport service.[8]


  1. ^ "Pah Rah Range". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  2. ^ Wadsworth, NV, 15 min. topographic quad., USGS, 1957
  3. ^ Nixon, NV, 15 min. topographic quad., USGS, 1957
  4. ^ Spanish Springs Valley, NV, 15 min. topographic quad., USGS, 1957
  5. ^ Reno, Nevada–California, 30x60 minute topographic quad., USGS, 1980
  6. ^ Olinghouse, NV, 7.5 minute topographic quad., USGS, 1985
  7. ^ a b Kleine, Scott; Gold Issue, Rocks & Minerals Magazine, Jan-Feb 2004
  8. ^ Carlson, Helen S. (1985). Nevada place names : a geographical dictionary. Reno: University of Nevada Press. p. 180. ISBN 0-87417-094-X. 
Pyramid Lake viewed from Pah Rah.