Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Carolina Gold Rush

The first gold rush in the United States was in North Carolina. The Reed Gold Mine in Cabarrus County, east of Charlotte, was the site of the first documented gold find.

John Reed was a modest farmer when his son discovered a yellow rock in the Little Meadow Creek in 1799. They used it as a door stop for three years until a jeweler from Fayetteville identified it as gold. He offered $3.50 to buy it (a week's wages at the time but only a tenth of one percent of its value) to the unaware farmer. After being duped Reed started mining the creek bed. Within a year, a slave named Peter had found a 28-pound nugget.
Reed and his partners were primarily farmers and did their mining in the off-season. As they found more gold they became quite wealthy and mining on the site expanded greatly. The map above shows the mine shafts in blue and houses in red that eventually populated the site.

This discovery set off a wave of mining in the early 1800's in what came to be known as the Carolina Gold Belt. North Carolina led the nation in gold production until 1848 when it was eclipsed by the California Gold Rush.
The Reed Gold Mine is now a state historic site with historical mining equipment and guided tours of the tunnels-more details can be found at North Carolina Historic Sites.


Michael5000 said...

Those must be the "them thar hills" we hear so much about.

Anonymous said...