Virginia Gold
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Virginia Gold

Finding Gold in Virginia as both lode and placer deposits. Before WW II at one point the state was the third largest producer of gold in the US.

The first mention of gold in Virginia is to be found in the writings of Thomas Jefferson who described a nugget that was found in Virginia in 1804. A one time before World War II Virginia was actually the third-largest producer of gold in the United States. Most lode gold mines are now closed, but there is still plenty of gold mining that is being done that is placer mining with the gold miners using pans and sluice boxes or other equipment.

The gold mining in Virginia is concentrated in the gold -- pyrite belt extends across the state from its northeast to southwest corner. This belt is part of the southeast gold province that extends across the Piedmont district of several Southern states. Portions of this belt were also found in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama.

This belt is not a consistent gold producer for many years with gold being found in every county belt crosses. In the past Virginia had many lode gold deposits that would be worked. This ended during World War II when the US Government placed a ban on all gold mining activities in the United States. Today the goal being produced in Virginia comes from placer deposits with little actually being mined from gold lodes.

An article in Wikipedia lists all the gold mines that were found in Virginia by counties. Most lode gold mines were found in the formation of quartzite and schist. When gold mining reached its peak there were over 100 gold mines that were found in Virginia.

Much of the gold is found associated with quartzite deposits that may be considered to be fossilized remnants of an ancient beach or the gold that was originally deposited this placer gold that later became entrapped in the beach sands that were eventually metamorphosed to quartzite.

Like all the areas such as the Abitibi Greenstone belt in Ontario and Québec Virginia also has a pretty good supply of serpentine and soapstone that are related to Greenstone. It is thought by many of the geologists who have worked in the Abitibi region of Canada that the Greenstone is actually a host for the gold that was mobilized and deposited into other types of rock by the action of hot water. The same mechanism may have been at work in Virginia. The association of Greenstone belts with gold is a worldwide phenomenon that can't be overlooked in the search for gold.

Some of these mines were in operation right up until 1942 when the War Production Board closed them so that the miners could go to work in other industrious more important to the war effort and mining gold. A few of the mines reopened after World War II, but it was no longer economically viable to operate the mines and by 1948 they were all closed. We must assume considering the high price of gold today that many of these mines no doubt will be reopened.

The real death knell to gold mining in Virginia happened during the Civil War when gold mining just about ceased and after the war was over there was a policy of the Union Soldiers to wreck the Southern industries. They didn't forget about the gold mines and destroyed many of the gold mines whenever they can find them.

If there aren't any active bedrock mines in Virginia at the present time there is however a very active group of prospectors who have been going down to the rivers and creeks mining for placer gold. In the future the big gold mining companies may take a second look at what Virginia has to offer.

This was the subject of a conversation by the author of several mining company executives while attending the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) that the next place that is going to get serious consideration for prospecting is the East Coast of North America. This was in the meeting held in Toronto in early March of 2008. Two years later considering the high price of gold no doubt some of these big mining companies are giving an even greater consideration to looking at the mines in Virginia.

References:

Gold Mining in Virginia, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_gold_mining

Carter, John, The Abitibi Greenstone Belt of Canada,

Soapstone and Serpentine, http://www.varockhound.com/va/albemarle/alberene.shtml

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Comments (1)

Virginia must be a rich country because of all those gold mines.

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