North Carolina Gold
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North Carolina Gold

If you were taught in school that the first goldrush in America was in California you’re wrong, the first goldrush in America was in western North Carolina decades before gold was discovered in gold in California in 1848; North Carolina was the largest producer of gold that was used or mined in the United States. The California gold rush by far exceeded the amount gold that was produced in North Carolina, but many of the miners who went to California learned their gold-mining trade in the goldfields of North Carolina.

The first gold ever found in the United States was discovered by an 11-year-old farm boy, Conrad Reed, who was fishing in the creek that ran across his father's farm. The boy was wading at the edge of the creek when a bright yellow flash caught his eye in the stream bed. He picked this up and found it was metal of some kind but he didn't know what. He brought the thing home and when it was weighed it was 17 pounds. None of the rest of Conrad's family was able to identify the mystery metal either.

His father, John Reed, a former Hessian soldier during the Revolutionary who settled with several other German families in North Carolina was a very practical man and used the mystery stone for about three years as a door stop. He finally sold it to a jeweler for $3.50 and thought he had a good deal until he found out what the mystery metal really was. With that discovery he sued the jeweler and was able to recover about a $1000 settlement.

Reed then set about mining for gold with two other partners on the basis of any gold they found would be split equally among them. His slave, Peter shortly after mining operations commenced discovered another nugget in the same stream that weighed 28 pounds. Although Reed offered a piece of the nugget to Peter he refused because he thought that Reed was kidding him.

It wasn't long after that Reed commenced mining that the other farmers in the area also started looking for gold. At its height the gold rush in North Carolina employed over 25,000 men who were working in the gold mines.

This was because a belt of gold bearing belt runs across the Piedmont district of the Southern states all the way from Southeastern Pennsylvania to Northeastern Alabama. This gold belt runs right through our nation’s capital, Washington DC.

Mining in this belt is for both placer and lode gold deposits. The placer deposits are found along the rivers and creeks in the area as well as areas of containing highly weathered bedrock that are called saprolites.

The lode or hard rock mining is in quartz veins that are usually found in the schist found in the area. In the gold belt there are several different kinds of rocks that can host gold ranging all the way from slate to highly metamorphosed gneiss. This is a good example of, “Gold is where you find it!”

Although there are no reported bedrock mines that are active at the present time there is plenty of placer mining in North Carolina. A great deal of this action is in the Blue Ridge national Forest where gold panning is allowed. It is also allowed in state owned land but is also limited to the gold pan. There is plenty of private land in the area where you can also find gold, but get permission from the landowners before doing any mining and don't leave a mess behind you.

A likely place to try panning for gold is any of the rivers and creeks that come across the southern gold belt. Gold is where you find it, and the North Carolina there are many places that you can. The southern gold belt cuts right across the entire state from Virginia and passes into South Carolina and Georgia to the south.


North Carolina Gold Mines, etc.,

The Castle Gold & Gem Panning,

Geographic and Geologic description of gold Belts,

Additional resources:

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