The Gold   




A one ounce gold nugget will bring $2,000 to $4,000 on the collectors market.

Per a letter from the Department of Agriculture, no permit is needed for recreational gold panning and gold prospecting in the general national forest areas, provided no machinery is used. 

We will take a look at some interesting history about gold in North Carolina, South Carolina, and California. You'll find the stories of panning and prospecting for gold in the United States fascinating. However, before we continue with gold discoveries and documented stories we are also drawn to the winning of the gold and other metals during the Olympics.



Winners Gain Glory and Gold  

Winning an event at the Olympic Games is the highest glory for an athlete. It is true today. And it was true at the earliest Olympics.

Today, winners receive medals. But medals were not given out at the ancient Olympics. Instead, athletes won fame for their cities. They won prizes such as bronze tripods, shields, woolen cloaks, and olive oil. Winners wore wreaths of leaves. Artists made statues of the best athletes.

Olympic medals were first given in 1908. Medals went to the first three people to finish each event. First place won a gold medal. Second place earned a silver medal. Third place won a bronze.
For the first time, the medals for the 2002 Winter Olympics are different for each sport. Sixteen artists made the more than 800 medals. It took 20 hours to make each one.

The 2002 medals are made of metal mined only in Utah. Each weighs more than 1 pound. They are the heaviest medals ever.

Nike is the Greek goddess of victory. On the back of the 2002 medal, Nike holds a small victory leaf. This stands for the olive wreaths given to winners at the ancient games. To view the winners visit   
The Official Site of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games 

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A great picture!

As is the case with any epic human struggle, the storylines of the Games were plentiful and deep. Among those who tugged at our heartstrings was Croatia's Janica Kostelic. Once a dominating force on the alpine World Cup circuit, she came into the Games as a "what might have been" thanks to three knee surgeries within the last year.



Gold you can find in North Carolina and other states

Read on If your interested in some vacation recreation (fun for the whole family) and learning about the gold you can find in North Carolina and other states.

For panning or prospecting for gold you'll want Gold Maps. They can be obtained at the following website:   

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Gold maps tell you how to pan, where to look in a streambed and how to tell fool's gold from real gold. You can quickly learn to pan by following the instructions on your map.  Some people like to pan for gold at public rights of way where bridges cross gold-bearing streams. Treasure hunters metal detect for coins at the rural schools and churches.

A streak of gold mines and gold prospecting sites extends from near Montgomery, Alabama to Washington D.C. The gold was placed there when Africa overrode North America about 500 million years ago. North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and Alabama have many gold mines and prospecting sites. These states were our main source of gold for 45 years before the California gold discovery. In 1837, the US Government established gold coin mints in Georgia and North Carolina, rather than transport the raw gold to the Philadelphia Mint.

The largest true California gold nugget weighed 54 pounds. A 195 pound mass was also found. The 6,600 gold deposit sites shown on our six California gold prospecting and panning maps are continuous from Mexico to Oregon and to the Arizona and Nevada state lines. All gold sites on the prospecting and panning maps are from official records.


Comments on Mining of Gold, Gold Prospecting, Gold Panning, Treasure Hunting and Rockhounding in North Carolina

Gold Mines in North Carolina

North Carolina Gold History

The History of John Reed's Mine

The Bechtler Gold Coin Mint at Rutherford, N.C.


Gold Mines in South Carolina

South Carolina Gold Mining History


The Salt Lake City Connection



NORTH CAROLINA - Three hundred North Carolina gold mines and prospecting sites are located over 34 counties. A 17 pound gold nugget was found in 1799 by a 12 year old boy, Conrad Reed, in a creek on the Reed farm in North Carolina. The nugget was used as a doorstop for three years. Today you can enjoy visiting the Reed Gold Mine, the nation’s first, at Stanfield. It has gold displays, equipment, a film, gold panning and tours of the gold mine (704-786-8337). Also, see the North Carolina Minerals Museum at Spruce Pine and the Colburn Gem and Mineral Museum at Asheville. There are extensive national forests in North Carolina with beautiful streams where you may pan for gold. Some other gold nuggets found in North Carolina were: 28 pounds, 25 pounds and 15 pounds.

Rockhounding for gems and minerals, panning or prospecting for gold, treasure hunting for coins, jewelry and gold nuggets, are popular hobbies in North Carolina. North Carolina’s gold region includes gem stones such as rubies, sapphires, garnets, and emeralds. A diamond is occasionally found. Take your gold pan, sluice box, metal detector or dredge and get started prospecting and gem collecting.

When panning in North Carolina you will be surprised at the number of small gem stones, mainly garnets, that appear in your gold pan. If you have a metal detector for treasure hunting, be sure to detect for nuggets. Also, detect at rural churches and schools for coins and jewelry. Old rural churches had "dinner on the grounds" at which parishioners lost coins and jewelry. Franklin, North Carolina is famous for it’s rubies. You will be able to pan for rubies at several "pan for fee" locations there.

Big Ten’s North Carolina Gold Map shows 300 gold mines and prospects from official geological records of the State of North Carolina and the federal government. Gold sites are shown in these 34 North Carolina counties: (those in Western North Carolina are linked to business directories as seen below)

Alamance    Avery    Burke    Cabarrus    Caldwell    Catawba    Cherokee    Clay    Cleveland     Davidson    Davie    Franklin    Gaston    Guilford    Henderson    Jackson    Lincoln    Macon     McDowell   Mecklenburg    Montgomery    Moore    Nash    Orange    Person    Polk    Randolph     Rowan    Rutherford    Stanley    Swain    Transylvania    Union    Watauga .


Comments on Mining of Gold, Gold Prospecting, Gold Panning, Treasure Hunting and Rockhounding in North Carolina

Little Meadow Creek
Little Meadow Creek at Reed Gold Mine, site of first discovery of gold in the U.S.

Large nuggets have been found at North Carolina gold mines. Many large gold nuggets were found at Little Meadow Creek, on the Reed Gold Mine property, starting with a l7 pound nugget. So many nuggets were found at this creek that the area next to the creek was called "The Potato Patch", the digging of nuggets having been likened to digging up potatoes. Much of North Carolina is covered by National Forests which have beautiful streams where families can enjoy panning and prospecting for gold and gems. When gold prospecting, treasure hunting or collecting gems and minerals, don’t worry if the stream is small. Little streams often have gold or other minerals or gem stones of interest.


Gold Mines in North Carolina

Prior work by P. Albert Carpenter, III is acknowledged. Gold mines and gold panning and prospecting sites range across North Carolina from Clay and Swain counties in the west to Nash, Halifax and Franklin counties in the east. Many sites are accessible from primary and secondary roads.

Heavy gold deposit concentrations occur between Morganton and Rutherfordton, all around Gastonia, all around Charlotte, and near Concord, Salisbury, Albermarle, Lexington, High Point, Asheboro, Robbins, Chapel Hill and Burlington. There is a concentration of gold near Andrews in Cherokee County that was commercially mined three times in history.

A geological report mentions that a North Carolina farmer shot deer with golden bullets molded from gold found on his property.


North Carolina Gold History

The material herein under the headings "First Discovery of Gold in the United States", "Origin of Gold Mining at the Reed Mine" and "Spread of Placer and Lode Gold Mining" is quoted from "Reed Gold Mine, Site of the First Documented Discovery of Gold in the United States". (North Carolina Division of Archives and History)


Site of the First Documented Discovery of Gold
in the United States


Reed Gold Mine is the site of the first documented gold find in the United States. From this discovery, gold mining spread gradually to nearby counties and eventually into other southern states. During its peak years gold mining was second only to farming in the number of North Carolinians it employed. The estimated value of gold recovered reached over one million dollars a year. North Carolina led the nation in gold production until 1848, when it was eclipsed by the great rush to California.

John Reed (Johannes Reith) was a Hessian soldier who left the British army near the conclusion of the Revolutionary War and came to settle near fellow Germans living in the lower Piedmont of North Carolina. Most of the people dwelt on modest family-run farms in rural areas, where they raised small grain crops such as corn and wheat.

The life of farmer John Reed would have been long forgotten had it not been for a chance event one Sunday in 1799. On that day, Reed's son Conrad found a large yellow rock in Little Meadow Creek on the Reed farm in Cabarrus County. This rock reportedly weighed 17 pounds and for three years was used as a doorstop at the Reed house.

In 1802 a Fayetteville jeweler identified the gold nugget. He purchased it for the asked price of $3.50—one-tenth of one percent of its true value.

The following year John Reed began the Reed mining operation by forming a partnership with three local men. The partners supplied equipment and workers to dig for gold in the creek bed, while Reed provided the land. The returns were to be divided equally. The men mined mainly in the off-season from farming, giving first priority to raising their crops. Before the end of the first year, a slave named Peter had unearthed a 28-pound nugget. Using only pans and rockers to wash the creek gravel, the part-time miners recovered an estimated yield of one hundred thousand dollars by 1824.

Hearing of Reed's good fortune, other Piedmont farmers began exploring their creeks and finding gold. Men and women, both young and old, worked in the gold fields. Foreigners joined them, including the skilled Cornishmen from England.

"Placer," or creek, gold mining led to underground mining when it was learned in 1825 that the metal also existed in veins of white quartz rock. The search for underground or "lode" gold required much more money, labor, and machinery. Underground work at Reed was not begun until 1831. Four years later a family squabble resulted in a court injunction that closed the mine for a decade.

John Reed was a wealthy man when he died in 1845. Soon the Reed mine was sold at public auction. The mine changed hands many times through the years until 1912, when the last underground work took place there. Placer miners found the last large nugget at Reed in 1896. The yield of the mine in large nuggets alone ultimately totaled more than one hundred pounds.

Portions of the underground tunnels at the Reed mine have been restored for guided tours. A visitor center contains exhibits of gold and historical mining equipment. An orientation film highlights the first gold discovery, and tours of a restored ore-crushing stamp mill are offered. A picnic area is available, and trails wind through the historic mining area.

The Gold History Corporation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of North Carolina's gold mining heritage, supports many ongoing projects at Reed Gold Mine.


The History of John Reed's Mine

The story of North Carolina's Reed Gold Mine reveals the amazing accidents, drama, and ironies of history that, with variations, occurred in connection with gold rushes around the world. It is the story of an illiterate Hessian mercenary from Germany—an illegal immigrant—who deserted from the British army in Savannah and made his way to backwoods North Carolina, where he settled near Meadow Creek in Mecklenburg County, married, and raised a family. It is the saga of a twelve-year-old boy who went fishing one Sunday and found a seventeen-pound rock that served as a convenient doorstop for three years before being sold to a merchant for a mere $3.50, although it was gold worth a thousand times that modest sum. It is the account of an impoverished slave who found a twenty-eight-pound nugget of gold in a creek while doing part-time mining for his owner. It is the report of a rich mine that was closed for a decade while its owners argued over a hunk of gold in legal battles that reached the state supreme court. It is the topsy-turvy tale of a mine whose last original family owner went broke and sold the property at auction, only to see it resold ten months later for an 800 percent jump in price. It is the narrative of a mining company that, despite tens of thousands of dollars and the latest technology, equipment, and management, failed within a year. It is the legend of a woman murdered by a family member and shoved down a mine shaft. It is the tale of a mine only twenty miles from Charlotte abandoned and kept for a private hunting retreat for seventy years, only to wind up preserved as a state historic site.

The Reed Gold Mine in Cabarrus County, site in 1799 of the first authenticated discovery of gold in the United States, held out the initial golden promise to the people of the Piedmont and the nation. In beginning such a story it is imperative, of course, to introduce John Reed, the fortunate fellow who owned the mine. Unhappily, because there are no known Reed manuscripts, many questions about his life and his mine remain unanswered. The very spelling of the apparently illiterate man's name may be questioned. Since he was born in Germany, John Reed must have Anglicized his original name, which probably was Johannes Ried, Riedt, or Rieth. Many German surnames in Piedmont North Carolina received American equivalents either by transferring the sound or meaning of the word to English. As "Reed" meets both of these criteria when compared with Ried, and several of his sons signed their names in that manner, the spelling seems to have been a logical choice. Equally imprecise until recently have been the date and place of John Reed's birth. He was born in 1757, 1758, or 1759 in the province of Hessen-Cassel. These uncertainties about the place and time of Reed's birth and his German heritage remained an enigma until the 1990s, when Mark A. Schwalm, a Hessian descendant and genealogist, completed the most thorough analysis of the questions.

In 1799 the course of Reed's life and a portion of the history of his adopted homeland was turned about by the accidental discovery of gold on his property. The most authentic accounts of the find come from some of Reed's relatives about half a century after the occasion. One Sunday—supposedly in the spring—twelve-year-old Conrad Reed, son of John, chose to go fishing with several siblings in Little Meadow Creek on the family farm rather that attend church with his parents. While busy alongside the creek he saw "a yellow substance shining in the water." Wading in to retrieve the object, he discovered it to be some kind of metal. The wedge-shaped rock was about the size of a small smoothing iron, or flatiron. Its weight was later said to be approximately seventeen pounds.

Conrad subsequently showed the yellow rock to his father, but John Reed, unable to identify it, set the heavy stone aside as a useful doorstop and continued life as usual. For some time this valuable doorstop served unnoticed in its utilitarian role. On only a single recorded occasion during the next three years did Reed pay any particular attention to it. At some point he took the hunk of ore to William Atkinson, supposedly a silversmith in Concord, for identification. The latter proved to be a silversmith unable to recognize raw gold and could not identify the rock.

Nevertheless, Reed in 1802 found a person who knew the metal at once. A jeweler in Fayetteville, whom Reed visited on an annual marketing trip to that town, told Reed that the metal was gold and asked that the nugget be left for fluxing; when Reed returned, the artisan showed him a bar of gold six to eight inches long. It may be difficult to believe that Reed had no conception of gold as a precious item, but when the craftsman offered to buy the nugget, Reed asked what he felt to be a "big price"-$3.50. The merchant, whose name is now unknown, gladly paid him and received roughly $3,600 worth of gold.

It was not long before Reed (perhaps with the aid of James Love or others) discovered his errors and supposedly recovered about a thousand dollars from the jeweler. Reed and his family soon began searching in Little Meadow Creek for other valuable rocks. The chief hunts occurred in the summer, when farming did not require much labor and the creek was dry. Perhaps uneasy with his sudden wealth, Reed early turned a profit and in 1803 expanded his operation by taking three friends of relative substance—his brother-in-law Frederick Kiser, Reverend Love, and wealthy landowner Martin Phifer Jr.—into partnership. After the crops were put into the ground and the stream on Reed's land had nearly dried up in late summer, each of the three other men supplied equipment and two slaves to dig for gold in the creek bed. The four associates planned an equal division of returns. They were not disappointed, as Peter, one of the slaves owned by Love, unearthed from merely six inches below the bottom of Little Meadow Creek (near a deep spot called the "lake") a twenty-eight-pound nugget worth more than sixty-six hundred dollars before the end of the season. One story was that Love offered Peter a walnut-sized knob off the nugget before it was fluxed, but Peter—fearful of a jest at his expense—refused to risk damage to his dinner fork by trying to pry off the piece.

The gold later enabled intelligent but uneducated Reed to become a man of significant wealth over the years, and he invested in land and slaves but otherwise apparently lived modestly. In the sixty or so years he resided in the area, he engaged in about two dozen documented land transactions (including some intended to defend or enhance his mining sites) in Cabarrus County alone. Reed bought some two thousand acres of land there and retained nearly half of it until his death. He also became part of the unfortunate southern habit of slaveholding, purchasing three African Americans—Dinah, Charity, and Sam—in 1804. Reed ultimately may have owned more than a dozen additional blacks. Thirteen unmarked stones, which may mark slave graves, have survived in the family cemetery. Each of Reed's three partners owned more than a dozen enslaved Americans in his lifetime, and each of the four men attained or approached the level of affluence of the one in fifty Piedmont slave owners who owned twenty or more slaves in 1860. At that time only about a fourth of white families in the state owned any slaves at all.

Reprinted from Golden Promise in the Piedmont: The Story of John Reed's Mine, by Dr. Richard F. Knapp, revised edition, 1999. Available at Reed Gold Mine.



C. Bechtler began operation of a private gold coin mint in 1831 at Rutherfordton, North Carolina. Gold mines and prospectors supplied gold to the mint. Bechtler’s gold coins were widely accepted in trade and are now highly prized by coin collectors. C. Bechtler operated his mint until 1838 and then his son, A. Bechtler, operated it until 1857. In the meantime the U.S. had established mints at Dahlonega, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina; yet the private operations of Bechtler were not interfered with, for the reason, it was said, that the Bechtler coins were found to equal or exceed the federal standards of fineness and weight.


South Carolina Gold Mines, Prospecting, Panning, Treasure Hunting and Rockhounding

If you plan to pan for gold in South Carolina, you will find an abundance of creeks and branches in which to pan. Panning and gold prospecting locations are numerous and many gold sites are near primary and secondary roads. If you are a treasure hunter, you will be delighted with the treasure hunting possibilities in South Carolina. South Carolina was one of the original colonies and has many old towns, old plantations, old churches and old rural schools where treasure may be found with a metal detector.

Gem stones are sought by rockhounds in the same areas where prospecting and panning for gold and treasure hunting for nuggets is done. Gem stones reported from the northwestern part of South Carolina include beryl (aquamarine, emerald, yellow beryl ), corundum (sapphire), diamond, garnet, sillimanite, topaz, tourmaline and zircon.

Big Ten’s map of South Carolina gold shows 130 gold mines and gold prospects from official geological records of the State of South Carolina and the federal government. Gold sites are shown in these 18 South Carolina counties:

Abbeville    Anderson    Cherokee    Chesterfield    Fairfield    Greenville    Greenwood    Kershaw    Lancaster    Laurens    McCormick    Newberry    Oconee    Pickens    Saluda    Spartanburg    Union    York.


Gold Mines in South Carolina

The gold mining, prospecting and panning areas of South Carolina range generally from McCormick and Columbia north and northeast to the North Carolina state line and westward to the Georgia state line. The gold prospecting areas and mines are in the northwest quadrant of the state and continue over into Georgia and North Carolina. More on South Carolina gold mining, prospecting and panning locations is given in the section that follows.


South Carolina Gold Mining History

Information on this page as pertains to gold mines, gold prospecting areas, and minerals and gem stone occurrences was obtained from research of geological records and documents of the South Carolina Geological Survey, the U.S. Bureau of Mines, the U.S. Geological Survey and similar sources. Prior work by Arthur H. Maybin III, Camilla K. McCauley and J. Robert Butler is acknowledged.

South Carolina gold mine

Scene at Haile Gold Mine at Kershaw, South Carolina

Butler mentions that most of the earliest production of gold in South Carolina came from placers. Many of the gold placers occur very close to a lode which is the suspected source of the gold. One of the most productive gold placers was the Tanyard pit at the Brewer Gold Mine in Chesterfield County. The estimated placer gold production was about twice the lode gold production. Butler’s writings mention that an interesting feature of the Tanyard pit is the evidence of deposition and sorting of the sands by sea waves (Pardee and Park) and that the placer must have been formed partly by wave action along an ancient coastline.

The Martin Mine in York County produced a considerable quantity of placer gold from a clay-gravel bed of several acres and from the underlying weathered material. Lieber (1856) reported that gold nuggets weighing 9.5 and 17 ounces were found at the Martin Mine and also large pieces of quartz were found that contained 10.5 ounces and 200 ounces of gold. Other important gold placer mines were in Oconee County and along the Middle Tyger River and its tributaries in Spartanburg and Greenville Counties.

The gold mines and prospecting regions of South Carolina are part of the gold belt that extends from Central Alabama to Northern Virginia. The famous Haile Gold Mine is near Kershaw in Lancaster County. The Ridgeway Gold Mine is about 20 miles from Columbia. The city of McCormick, South Carolina is built over a gold mine that was owned by Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the reaper.

When prospecting , panning or treasure hunting in South Carolina, don’t overlook the gold near Clemson and near the Chattanooga National Wild and Scenic River, which was used as a location for filming of "Deliverance". Try treasure hunting for nuggets with a metal detector. Many gold mines and prospecting and panning sites are near Rock Hill and Gaffney. These gold sites continue into the state of North Carolina.

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