abound that point to the mining of gold around Dahlonega, Georgia.
The Cherokees probably knew of the gold long before Anglo explorers
and settlers did. There are indications that Hernando Desoto mined
for gold with the assistance of the Cherokees as far back as 1540.
It is known that before Dahlonegas gold discovery,
there was one in North Carolina that occurred in 1799, resulting
in the Reed Gold Mining Company.
It would be the one at Dahlonega that produced the first gold rush
in the U.S.
Theres little for the present day historian
to research regarding Dahlonega through the 1700s, except occasional
indications of mining activity during that time.
It is believed by many that in 1828, a deer hunter, Benjamin Parks,
tripped over a rock about 2 miles south of present-day Dahlonega.
For whatever reason he inspected the rock and found that it contained
a heavy concentration of gold. However, this story is not necessarily
accepted by most historians as being true. There were gold mining
activities known to have been in the area already in 1828, prior
to Benjamin Parks discovery.
When word got out of the discovery, the hills filled
up with prospectors, 15,000 of them. It was a gold rush. In the
beginning the gold could be found on the ground and was easy pickings
for whoever would bend over and pick it up. Panning for it was another
alternative. People were getting rich. As the gold became more and
more difficult to mine, sluices were installed to facilitate more
ore with less work.
In 1845 Nathan Hand developed a system that eased
some of the physical labor in gold mining. He designed and built
an early version of a hydraulic mining system that involved over
26 miles of pipes and ditches. The water would flow naturally downhill
due to gravity. It was then routed into a nozzle with a 5 or 6-inch
diameter. The result was pressurized water that could be sprayed
onto a mountainside, creating a mudslide. Following each application
of pressure, the mudslide would be inspected for gold.
In time, the easy to reach gold was gone. It was
later discovered that the gold was in veins of quartz. Within some
of these veins were gold deposits.
Located on the side of the mountain that faced
Dahlonega, a huge vein of gold-bearing quartz was discovered. While
most of the quartz veins in the area measured 2 inches to 8 inches
across, this one measured a full 22 feet across! Its discovery eventually
led to the development of the Dahlonega Consolidated Gold Mine.
In about 1880, solid rock was reached. Captain
Ingersol, later of the Dahlonega Consolidated Gold Mine started
testing the hard rock. It would be years before his conclusion would
This gold was not appearing by itself, it was appearing
inside quartz deposits and especially inside this huge deposit!
The vein ran deep into the mountain at an approximate angle of 45
In 1895, a group of northern investors bought the
land and the surrounding small mining operations to form the Dahlonega
Consolidated Gold Mining Company, which referred to their find as
the Glory Hole. In 1906, the company had failed! There
are many speculations as to the reason, but most agree that it wasnt
due to a shortage of gold.
Today, you may visit Dahlonega and take a guided
tour of the Glory Hole.