The Franklin River flows west from its head waters near Mount McQuillan in the northeast and Mount Spencer in the south east to its mouth on the Alberni Inlet, approximately 16 kilometres south of the community of Port Alberni.
The area is underlain by mafic volcanic rocks of the Triassic Karmutsen Formation (Vancouver Group). These are intruded by large granodiorite sills, stocks and dikes of the Jurassic Island Plutonic Suite. Local inliers consist of Triassic Quatsino Formation (Vancouver Group) sedimentary limestones overlain by volcanics of the Jurassic Bonanza Group, and sandstones, shales and conglomerates of the Cretaceous Nanaimo Group.
It appears that most of the gold was derived from bars or in crevices in the bedrock of the river bed, or from benches along the side of the creek.
In 1895, many claims and hydraulic leases were situated along the China (MINFILE 092F 047) and Franklin rivers and their tributaries; Corrigan, Mineral and Granite creeks. During the 20th century, placer claims have been located on upper Corrigan Creek, near the southwestern slopes of Mount Spencer and the former WWW (MINFILE 092F 141) lode gold mine.