Thursday, August 6, 2009
Reed Gold Mine
Today our Carolina adventures took us to Reed Gold Mine, about a 1/2 hour from home. I only recently learned that the first documented gold discovery in the United States happened here in 1799. Little Conrad Reed was playing down by the Little Meadow Creek one day and brought home a 17 pound shiny rock.
His parents thought it was nice and used it as a doorstop. Three years later, John Reed took the rock to a jeweler, who gave John his asking price of $3.50--a week's worth of farm wages to John. The rock was then sold for $3,600 (or $200,000 today). Of course, John was annoyed, but he began searching his land for gold. For awhile he pulled it out of the ground like potatoes. Eventually, they went underground and the area was mined for 80 years. At the height of the Carolina Gold Rush, there were 300-600 mines in operation throughout the state.
We first walked through the museum and then took a guided tour of a renovated section of the underground mine. Our tour guide was very good and the kids had a great time. One thing that I found amazing is that John Reed didn't think mining for gold was an ethical way to earn a living, so farming was still his first priority! Of course, he died a wealthy man.
We were about 50 feet underground through the tour and it was a nice 62 degrees down there. This is looking up the shaft:
And this is us standing on the top of the same site:
The whole thing is free, except it is $2 to pan for gold.
We found two small flecks as well as a very random piece of tin foil from the 1930s.
We spent a little over two hours there, but you could spend more or less depending on what you want to do. We didn't watch the video or take the tour of the mill house where they would grind the quartz to get to the gold inside. There are also some trails to walk around and we did see the foundation and chimney of the room that pumped the water out of the mines. The Reed Gold Mine is in the middle of nowhere, but there are picnic benches on site.
This is a great place to take out-of-town visitors. I knew it was a success as we were leaving and my kids asked me when we are going back!