The Vanishing of Nan Dixon

Heather Monroe
7 min readAug 24, 2019

Missing for 40 years

Nan Dixon, NamUS

Nancy “Nan” Cecile Dixon was born August 4, 1905, in Charlottesville City, Virginia. She was the eldest of nine children. Nan was tiny at 4'10", and only 118lbs. Her family describes her as “strong and lively” even at 72 years of age. She made her home in Grass Valley, CA, with her third husband, Bob. She knew how to drive, but typically avoided it if she could. Nan was feeling lonely in her old age, and often asked her brother why he didn’t visit her.


In 1961, Nan’s brother Harry and his wife, Lula were leasing property in Seven Troughs, NV. They were some of the only residents left in the wildly remote mining community. Harry and his brother, Dan, planned to open a gold mining operation and asked the other siblings for money to fund the business venture. Nan graciously loaned $6,000. However, nothing came of the mine, and no one paid Nan back. This, understandably, caused turmoil in the family. So much so that Nan and Harry didn’t speak until their brother Paul’s funeral in 1976. After several years of arguments and hurt feelings, the Leighton’s decided to forgive the debt for the sake of keeping the peace.

Looking N-NW from Signal Peak to the ghost town of Seven Troughs, Pershing Co., NV. Courtesy QKC. The area where Nan went missing.

Nan made plans to visit her brother in the remote and defunct town of Seven Troughs, Nevada. She begged her husband to accompany her on the trip, but he refused. She asked her friend Martha to join her on the road trip, but she had other plans. September 21, 1978, Nan tossed a tote full of clothes, a hand-drawn map, and her husband’s .22 handgun into her lime green 1976 Datsun B210 Sedan, and made the trip alone. The three-hour drive was a small price to pay, as she was desperate to see her brother. Nan stopped in Boomtown, NV, to have dinner. She then purchased $4.18 of gas at a Texaco station in Lovelock, NV. Then, she vanished into thin air.

It didn’t take long for Nan’s family to realize that she was missing. Her family and law enforcement scoured the desert but were unable to locate any trace of Nan. Rumors of foul play or suicide were rampant, but there were no substantial leads. Either way, Nan was missing.

A Possible Break

Heather Monroe

Welcome readers! Heather Monroe is a genealogist and writer who resides in California with her partner and their nine children. •True Crime• History• Memoir•