Exploring North Carolina Ghost Towns
Historians report that from 1804 to 1828, all domestic gold that was coined by the U.S. Mint was mined in the state of North Carolina. It was, during that time, known as The Golden State. But when it comes to the dead and deserted ghost towns in North Carolina, the best way to describe them is that they are lying in state.
Many towns that got started due to mining and agriculture are long gone.
These are 6 interesting ghost towns to visit, but there are literally hundreds more in the state. If you are interested in treasure hunting, these can be great places to search with a metal detector. Some of them dont have any buildings left, so it will take you some research to find them!
Mining Claim News From The Diggings
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The Diggings is a resource for locating where mining claims are and have been. Discover mining activity in your area and find new regions of opportunity.
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Where To Find Crystals And Gemstones In North Carolina
There is nothing quite like uncovering a quartz crystal with a perfect termination or finding a beautiful agate that has been waiting in a river bank for you to come along and take it home. Gemstones are some of the most enjoyable specimens that rockhounds can find, but its not always easy to know where to look.
Tip: Check out my Complete Rock Tumbling Guide to make your rocks and gemstones really shine!
Thankfully, North Carolina is perhaps the single best place to go crystal and gem hunting in the entire world. Its certainly near the top of the list of rockhounding destinations in the United States. The terrain of western and central North Carolina is among the most heavily mineralized areas found anywhere on earth, particularly the mountainous Blue Ridge and Piedmont regions.
Gem and crystal hunting is so prolific in North Carolina that its difficult to highlight just a few areas. In most counties there are countless mines which have historically produced high-quality gemstones of minerals like amethyst, beryl, garnet, aquamarine, emerald, and many more.
In general, the best places to find gems and crystals in North Carolina are the many active mines which are open to the public for digging. You can also find crystals in rocky outcrops, the tailings of old mines, and in the gravels of streams all across the state particularly near the town of Franklin.
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Midland In Cabarrus County
Midland was the home of the Reed Gold Mine. It too is purported to be the site of the first gold find documented in the United States. In 1848, North Carolina had the most gold production in the country, until the great gold rush to California. The Reed Gold Mine was a treasure chest it was remarked that miners dug gold like potatoes.
It is reported that the monetary value of gold recovered in the Reed Gold Mine reached over $1,000,000 a year. The mine had several owners until 1912, when underground mining ceased.
Today some parts of the underground tunnels in the mine have been restored to offer guided tours.
Gold History In The Middle Of Everywhere
North Carolina is rich in gold history. You will enjoy a nostalgic change of pace and step back in time as you stroll along the wood sidewalks of this restored nineteenth century Gold Mining boom town.
Our gold history story
With its first gold discovery in 1824, Gold Hill is considered one of todays most charming and historic small towns in North Carolina. Gold Hill is home to numerous gold mines. The 850ft deep Randolph Mine and the 435ft deep Barnhardt Mine became two of the most famous and profitable gold mines in the southeast. As a result, Gold Hill enjoyed the claim to fame and fortune.
Gold Hill offers an Au-some experience celebrating the gilded age of gold discovery in North Carolina. The town was once the envy of Charlottes Mayor. He is quoted as saying that he had, Hopes for Charlotte to one day, be as big and prosperous as Gold Hill. Our visitors love getting away from the hustle of the city to shop, dine and play at a relaxing slower pace.
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How This Affects You:
Our states population growth and development, with its increasing housing and transportation needs, may be significantly affected by sinkholes. A sinkhole formed under I-40, a major transportation route near Wilmington, in the summer of 2001. Knowing the geology beneath the ground can assist in determining where surface geologic hazards may occur.
North Carolina Rockhounding Laws & Regulations
One of the most common questions rockhounds have is whether or not they are allowed to collect at a certain location. It is the responsibility of each rockhound to obtain permission from a landowner to search and/or collect on a piece of property.
The ownership and status of land can and does change frequently, making it impossible to document accurate information for every location on this page. However, I have compiled a list of resources here so that you may investigate and obtain permission for any locations for yourself.
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Eastern North Carolina Rockhounding Sites
Compared to the rest of the state, eastern North Carolina is relatively lacking when it comes to both the number of locations and the variety of rocks and minerals that can be found here. Most of the collectible material comes in the form of quartz-family minerals like agate, chalcedony, jasper, opal, and quartz crystals.
These relatively hard minerals have weathered out of rock up in the mountains and gradually been transported downstream. They survive this process far better than softer minerals and thus are among the most common finds in the coastal plain. The best rockhounding sites in western North Carolina are in the bars of rivers and streams where you can find agates, petrified wood, and other quartz minerals in gravels.
Not included in this list of rockhounding sites are places where you can find shark teeth. The best places to search for shark teeth in North Carolina are the beaches of the Atlantic Coast, particularly Topsail beach which has long been a popular shark tooth hunting destination. Fossilized Megalon teeth have reportedly been found on some beaches at low tide, especially after a storm.
|Amethyst, Beryl, Lepidolite, Quartz crystals , Staurolite|
Henry Mill Village In Burke County
Henry Mill Village looks just like a ghost town is expected to appear. Abandoned horse troughs and tumbleweeds are iconic symbols in the typical post Gold Rush town. But in the early 1900s, it was a financially booming town that put other villages to shame.
The town boasted more than twenty buildings and a population full of mill workers. It was considered a gold mining town that offered prosperity to its residents until the mill went under and people started moving away. By 1987 the town was abandoned for dead.
Hollywood brought the town back to life for a brief period. It served as the location for a town in the 2012 movie, The Hunger Games. Tourists breathed some life back into Henry Mill Village temporarily, but a permanent resurrection did not happen for this North Carolina ghost town.
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Rockhounding Sites In North Carolina
Important Disclaimer: I have not been to these locations myself, and I do not know if they are currently open for collecting. Use this resource as a guide to get you started. Follow posted signage and always get permission from the landowner to collect.
Through quite a bit of research and cross-referencing of available literature, I have compiled this list of some prospective locations in North Carolina which I would recommend to people looking to do some rockhounding. These are mostly comprised of beaches, old mining prospects, washes, streams, and historically known rock and mineral collecting sites. For additional reading, Id highly recommend these books you can find on Amazon:
Please remember that rock collecting locations are constantly changing. Specimens may become depleted from other collectors, the location may have been built on or altered, locality information in literature may be inaccurate, and property ownership may have changed hands. Joining up with a local rockhounding club for a group trip can often get you access to otherwise off-limits locations like privately owned mines and quarries. There are many rockhounding clubs in North Carolina so you can most likely find one you like nearby.
Where To Pan For Gold In The Piedmont
Nuggets of North Carolinas gold history survive in the darkness of restored mines, on shelves in vintage general stores, and in the hills and rivers of Uwharrie National Forest.
Searching for gold among muddy pebbles in a pan takes patience. At Reed Gold Mine in Midland, youll learn how.
The California gold rush of the 1800s gets the glory, but North Carolina has its own gold history. Until 1848, the state led the nation in gold production. It all started in 1799, when Conrad Reed discovered a 17-pound gold rock in a Cabarrus County creek. In later decades, mines were dug throughout the area, from the Reed Gold Mine to the Russell Mine in Montgomery County to the countless tunnels, now closed, beneath Charlotte. Some $25 million in gold has been found in the state, most of it before 1900. While gold fever in other states eventually lured miners away from North Carolina, signs of our rich past still sparkle throughout the Piedmont.
REED GOLD MINECABARRUS COUNTY
9621 Reed Mine Road Midland, NC 28107
GOLD HILLROWAN COUNTY
735 St. Stephens Church Road, Gold Hill, NC 28071
RUSSELL MINEMONTGOMERY COUNTY
Coggins Mine Road, near Big Creek, Troy, NC 27371 576-6391
UWHARRIE RIVERMONTGOMERY COUNTY
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Preliminary Map Showing Location Of Principal Gold Deposits In North Carolina
|Shows counties, cities and towns, soil types, gold and copper deposits, and natural features.|
|Related Item||Nitze, Henry B. C. , and George B. Hanna. Gold deposits of North Carolina. Bulletin , no. 3.|
|Sponsor||North Carolina Maps is made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the State Library of North Carolina.|
Maps From Gold Deposits Of The Southern Piedmont
- Gold deposits of the southern Piedmont, 1948, by J. T. Pardee and C. F. Park, Jr., U. S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 213.This is a Full-Text PDF of the 1948 print edition which covers Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. It also includes digital scans of 43 “in pocket” plate illustrations as PDFs. The Geological Survey “in pocket” plates relating to North Carolina gold mines are listed below.
- Map of Gold Hill & Vicinity, by Ebenezer Emmons, 1856Shows a plan of the mines in the Gold Hill area, showing shafts, veins, and roads. Inset map shows “Ground Plan of the Honeycutt Workings. From Geological report of the midland counties of North Carolina by Ebenezer Emmons. See “Publications Online” for full report.
- This map portrays the Gold Hill district in Rowan and Cabarrus counties and shows the locations of mines. Original color print map sized 2.6 x 1.7 feet.See “Publications Online” to view Bulletin 21.
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Gold Hill In Rowan County
Gold Hill was founded around 1799. Soon after the Randolph Mine was built, miners came from all over to get their share of precious gold nuggets. Although several other mines were built after the Randolph, it is the only one that is legendary for not one ghost, but two.
It is said that a miner was murdered inside of the mine in 1842 because a fellow worker was jealous of his relationship with a young woman in town. The victim was lured in the mine and pushed down a shaft 850 feet deep. The remains were never found, but the story is that a shimmering yellow light visited the mine regularly. The murderer apparently went insane and began digging at the bottom of the shaft every night. His body was found smashed beyond recognition in the same spot.
A century later, another ghost was said to have inhabited the mine in the form of floating pieces of dismembered human remains. Rumor had it that it was the ghost of a man who died in a mysterious mine explosion. The town of Gold Hill is now a historic town with a very small population and some mines filled with ghostly remains.
Gold Mining In The Uwharries
“Mining for Mystery in the Uwharries”
by Kenneth W. RobinsonReprinted with permission from the Tar Heel Junior Historian. Fall 2008.Tar Heel Junior Historian Association, NC Museum of History
In the early decades of the 1800s, the southern Piedmont’s gold mines attracted prospectors, investors, and miners. Tar Heel gold had first been found in 1799 on John Reeds farm in Cabarrus County, several miles west of the Uwharrie Mountains. A lot of gold was recovered from the Reed Gold Mine, making Reed a wealthy man. Gold fever set in, as others tried to make their fortunes through mining. North Carolina experienced a gold rush in the 1820s and 1830s, becoming the nations largest producer of gold before the great California gold rush of 1849.
By the 1830s, gold prospectors and miners had moved into the Uwharrie Mountain region, searching the hills and panning the streams. Companies formed to finance mining operations. At least fifteen mines, including the Russell Mine, opened in the Uwharries before the Civil War. These included placer mines, where pressurized water was used to wash gold from hillsides shaft mines dug into hillsides and large, open pit mines. Later in the century, miners even used dredges to search the sands of the Uwharrie River.
“Map of North Carolina showing gold regions.” 1847. Online at Learn NC at . Accessed 12/2010.
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Where To Find Geodes In North Carolina
Geodes are some of the most popular rocks sought by rockhounds all over the world, and North Carolina is no exception. Unfortunately, the geologic setting that has produced so many interesting rocks and minerals is not conducive to the creation of geodes.
The only location in North Carolina where you can find reportedly find geodes is Shooting Creek along U.S. 64, east of Hayesville. These geodes are often lined with hyalite opal. Surprisingly, as great as North Carolina is for rock collecting, there are no other known geode hunting sites.
Tip: Not sure if the rock youve found is a geode? Check out my article about how to identify a geode.
If youre from North Carolina and youre looking for geodes, your best chances will be to visit a neighboring state like Tennessee where you can find them in several localities. You can also order geodes online for
Go Gold And Gem Mining In The State Where It Began
North Carolina has a glittering mining history, and today were still known for our gold, ruby, sapphire and emerald mines.
In the early 1800s, you could hardly cross North Carolina without falling into a gold mine. During our gold rush the nations first many industrious men made fortunes in North Carolina.
Today, you can visit the gold mine where it all began, and go to gem mines that give you hands-on experience with our states mineral resources and history.
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The North Carolina Gold Rush
by Rebecca LewisReprinted with permission from the Tar Heel Junior Historian. Spring 2006.Tar Heel Junior Historian Association, NC Museum of History
See also: Gold Rush
In 1799 an event occurred in the southern Piedmont that made North Carolina a very desirable place to livethe discovery of gold!
Twelve-year-old Conrad Reed was fishing in Little Meadow Creek on his familys farm in Cabarrus County one day in 1799 when he found a seventeen-pound gold nugget. More gold was found in and along the creek, making Conrads father, John Reed, a very wealthy man. News of gold in Cabarrus County spread quickly. Soon gold was being found in neighboring countiesMontgomery, Stanly, Mecklenburg, Rowan, and Unionand people anxious to find gold of their own began moving into the area.
In the mid-1700s, the western portion of the southern Piedmont was a scarcely populated backcountry. Governor Arthur Dobbs visited the area in 1755 to survey land located in present-day Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties that he had purchased ten years earlier. He found seventy-five Scots-Irish and twenty-two German families living there. He described these pioneers as industrious people, with most families having five to ten children. They raised livestock and crops such as corn, wheat, barley, rye, and indigo, and traded primarily with Charleston, South Carolina, some two hundred miles to the south. Charlotte, the states largest city today, was merely a dusty little village.
Theres Gold In Them Hills
The first discovery of gold at Gold Hill was in 1824. In 1843 that the town was incorporated. A formal town meeting was held and Col. George Barnhardt, son-in-law of John Reed , was chosen as the first mayor. Under his management, the Barnhardt Gold Mine at a depth of 435ft. was becoming the largest producer of gold in the south. The Earnhardt/Randolph Gold Mine reached an eventual depth of 850ft. Between the two mines alone, they produced a wealth of gold valued at seven to nine million dollars prior to the California gold strike. The news of the California strike didnt stop production of gold on the eastern front. The gold mines in North Carolina continued to prosper and lead the way in gold production until the beginning of the Civil War.
A New Era in Gold Mining
By the 1880s The New Gold Hill Ltd. Mining Co. was established in London, England. The company purchased holdings at Gold Hill and produced equal amounts of gold for another twenty years at considerable profits. The Gold Hill mines ceased production by 1915. Explorations were made again in 1950 but at that time proved to be too costly.
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