Everyone has heard about the California Gold Rush that began in 1848, but did you know that there was a gold rush in North Carolina half a century before that? In 1799, the son of farmer John Reed found a 17 pound nugget here valued at $3600 (which today would be $73,183). Unfortunately, Reed didn’t know its value; after using it for 2 years as a doorstop, he sold it for $3.50 ($71 today). But word got out, and the rush was on. Some people struck it rich. Others discovered, like Mark Twain (who went bust looking for gold in California) that “There are two times in a man’s life when he should not speculate : when he can’t afford it, and when he can “.
Today, you can tour the mine where gold was excavated for decades. You can also take a tour of the adjoining museum, viewing exhibits of photos and mining equipment. But best of all, you can try your hand at panning for gold, by investing a measly three dollars. For that amount, you get a genuine mining pan filled with soil from the creek. (Sorry, you no longer get the authentic experience of dipping the pan in the creek yourself – it was wreaking environmental havoc for too many amateur prospectors to do that.) And a guide will show you how to use the pan in the trough full of water to search for flecks of gold. After filtering out the mud and the large rocks, what you will have left is a layer of fine pebbles on the bottom of the pan. With any luck, you will be one of the one in seven who finds a speck a gold at the bottom of the pan.
Kimberly was. Dennis was not.
Special thanks to Reed Gold Mine for the mining adventure.