March 14, 2017
Like many tales of gold discoveries, the one about Cabarrus County’s Reed Gold Mine begins with an unintentional discovery and ends with a history-making rush.
America’s first documented discovery of gold happened right here in Midland, North Carolina. In 1779, 12-year-old Conrad Reed discovered a 17-pound gold nugget in Little Meadow Creek. After using it as a doorstop for three years, Conrad’s father John Reed sold the nugget to a jeweler in Fayetteville for $3.50, worth about one week’s work in that time. Mr. Reed later learned the nugget’s true value amounted to almost one thousand times more than his selling price.
Reed began to look for more gold in his creek, and his neighbors expanded the search to their own creeks starting the nation’s first gold rush. For 20 years, miners sifted through sand and gravel along North Carolina’s streams and rivers. The estimated value of gold recovered reached more than one million dollars per year. North Carolina led the nation in gold production until 1848, the start of the great rush to California.
Today, Reed Gold Mine is a state historic site and the only underground gold mine in North Carolina open to the public.
Visitors can experience the mine’s history by panning for gold (April through October), exploring restored portions of underground tunnels and viewing exhibits of gold and historic mining equipment.
Reed Gold Mine is an historic site for all ages and celebrated 40 years in 2017. As one of the state’s most unique attractions, Reed Gold Mine has welcomed over 2,000,000 visitors since opening in 1977. Plan your visit!