If Picks and Shovels Could Talk: Gold Mining History in North Carolina

The accidental discovery of gold on the Cabarrus County farm of John Reed in 1799 began a century of wealth, prosperity, heartbreak and deceit for many families and businessmen in North Carolina. This program outlines the fame and fortunes of the most prominent NC gold mines, their owners, investors and the people working in the mines. It traces the history of Gold Hill, which by the early 1840s was becoming known as North Carolina’s Great Gold Mining Capital, with the richest, most famous mines east of the Mississippi.  It was a town of such prominence that the Mayor of Charlotte boasted he had hopes for Charlotte that it would one day be as big and prosperous as Gold Hill.

North Carolina in general and Gold Hill in particular profited greatly from the cultural diversity, due to the convergence of miners from many foreign countries. The influences of German, African, English, Irish and many more immigrants made lives in the mining camps fascinating to say the least.  Although some workers left North Carolina after the discovery of gold in California, many descendants of these early miners still live and work in the same regions as their ancestors, as evidenced by street names such as Umberger, Oldenburg, Erbach, and Sansbury which still exist today.

 The program will discuss how the sleepy southern town of Gold Hill was impacted by this sudden influx of European Culture and People. It will reference actual newspaper articles and letters handed down and preserved through the generations to help tell the stories of the mines and their people.

Strengthened and united by the struggles of labor and the hope of prosperity in the ever elusive search for that one last gold nugget, over time Gold Hill has become a community of one people, brought together by the constant clinking of picks and shovels.

lectern, microphone, writeable board