“Rockhounding” is a popular and fast-growing hobby around the mountain towns in North Carolina. That’s the name people give to panning and prospecting for gold. All you need to get started is a pan, sluice box, metal detector or dredge. In addition to gold, you may turn up rubies, sapphires, garnets and emeralds and even the occasional diamond. And whatever you find is yours to keep.
We’ve all heard stories of the “gold rush” out West, but did you know that North Carolina was the first state to find the precious metal? That was on a fateful Sunday in 1799, when a farmer John Reed’s son Conrad discovered a large yellow rock that weighed a reported 17 pounds. Not realizing what they had, the family used it as a doorstop for three years. Finally, a local jeweler identified it and paid the Reeds their asking price, which at $3.50 must rank as one of the world’s greatest bargains!
At its peak, gold mining in North Carolina was second only to farming in the number of residents it employed. The estimated value of gold recovered reached over a million dollars a year. North Carolina led the nation in gold production until 1848, when the great rush to California got underway.
Here in Caldwell County, there are plenty of old prospecting sites to explore. The adjoining mines of Miller and Scott Hill, a mile and a half north of Hartland, were major lode gold producers in the area, as was Hercules Mine, located about 12 miles north of Morganton. Others popular with local rockhounds include the Upper Creek, Little John and Baker mines.
If you’re going to prospect near The Coves Mountain River Club, you’ll want to check out Wilson’s Creek and the Johns River for placer gold. The north side of Lower Creek, below Lenoir, is another good spot. And the stream gravel around Grandmother’s Mountain yields good results.
Of course, the Johns River in North Carolina, is also renowned for its great fishing. Where it meets Lake Rhodiss is a good spot for trophy stripers, and trout are plentiful near where Wilson Creek flows in. Fishing for smallmouth bass can be excellent as well, because the water coming from the Pisgah National Forest is so cold and clean. And even in the hottest months of summer, the high elevation means you’ll never have to worry about oppressive heat interfering with your enjoyment of outdoor activities.
If you’re planning to retire to the picturesque mountain towns in North Carolina, be sure to visit to The Coves Mountain River Club in Lenoir to see why so many people have found it to be an ideal place to own a retirement home. We’re a 3600-acre gated community, nestled between the Blue Ridge and Brushy Mountains in the midst of stately hardwood forests.
The Coves offers such a wealth of opportunity for those who want to escape the stresses of the city and enjoy the good life in a tranquil, beautiful environment. Maybe you never imagined yourself investigating gold mining in North Carolina. Well, that’s just one of the pleasant surprises The Coves has in store for you.
When the Lenoir weather turns cool and the leaves start to change, you’ll have a front-row seat for one of nature’s most spectacular shows. And whether your interests lie in fishing, boating, biking, hiking, photography or just relaxing as a cool mountain breeze blows gently over your body, there’s no better place to be than in this special corner of the world.
But don’t worry. You’ll still be within an hour of city life and an easy drive from Asheville, Charlotte and Winston-Salem.
Try your hand at panning for gold in Wilson’s Creek or the Johns River. North Carolina’s gold-mining history is close by for you to see and explore to your heart’s content. And who knows what treasures you might find near your new mountain home?
If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84 page Complimentary Magazine about the area (and about us).