City of Gold
Our school is located about an hour south of the Georgia city of Dahlonega, if you want to learn about the mineral gold, this is a great place to go!
The name "Dahlonega" is from the Cherokee Indian word meaning gold and the city has certainly earned its name. In 1828 twenty years before the well-known California Gold Rush, thousands of people came to north Georgia to seek their fortunes in the nation's first true gold rush. Benjamin Parks first discovered gold in the area while deer hunting. Parks said, in an interview with the Atlanta Constitution in 1894, "It seemed, within a few days, as if the whole world must have heard it; for men came from every state I ever heard of. They came afoot, on horseback and in wagons, acting more like crazy men than anything else."
The ore from Georgia produced a higher percentage of gold than the California mines. From 1828 to 1837, 1.7 million dollars of Georgia gold was sent to the mint in Philadelphia. In 1838 the Dahlonega Branch Mint opened. It closed in 1861 because of the Civil War.
|Today, the Dahlonega Courthouse Gold Museum, which used to be the Lumpkin County Courthouse, is a real symbol of those Gold Rush days. The building is constructed with locally made bricks containing traces of real gold from the area. The museum is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the most visited historic sites in Georgia. Visitors can see a film about the Gold Rush days and mining in the area. There are gold coins that were actually minted at the Dahlonega Branch Mint and gold nuggets that were found in the area on display.|
|The geology of this area explains why people came from all over to mine for gold here. You see, the gold is found in quartz rock which runs in veins through the landforms. Most are less than a foot wide, but they found one here that was 22 feet wide! It's one of the largest in the world.|
Knowing there is gold under your feet, when you are there, can give you "gold fever". You can understand the excitement of the early prospecters! Fortunately, the Consolidated Gold Mine still exists. It was the largest gold mine east of the Mississippi River. There are over 200 tunnels in the mine and, while mining in those days was very dangerous work, today visitors can tour the main tunnels in safety.
|On one day alone in 1901, 54 pounds of gold was taken out of this area. Today it would be worth about $250,000! Pretty good pay for a day's work!|
|You can pan for gold in an area they have set up and most people find a few flakes. It's a lot of fun to try. When you go through the tunnels you can imagine long ago when the miners risked their lives blasting the rock from the mountain so it could be crushed, melted and separated to free the gold from the ore.|
There is still lots of gold in Dahlonega, but the cost of mining it is more than the gold is worth on today's market, so it just sits and waits for the next group of fortune seekers.
Go back to the Mining Tunnels!