This WashPost article reminded me of an early fieldtrip to Reed Gold Mine, east of Charlotte. Reed Gold Mine was the first documented gold find in the United States in 1799 and sparked the first US gold rush … not to California, but to the Piedmont of North Carolina. I can remember when I visited as a kid that they had a small museum/educational display, that we got to go underground into a section of mine shaft, and that we got the chance to pan for gold. From their website, it is clear that much the same visitor experience is on offer today at the Mine.
Yet, this is not what the Washington Post article was about … it was about finding gemstones. These are found in a completely different part of NC, the south-western part of the state (in the mountains). I also remember these from when I was younger … we never really went to any of them but I remember that there was one in Chimney Rock that we pasted all of the time driving from Shelby to Asheville. In Macon County, around the town of Franklin, there are several good places to go gem hunting. In some ways, I think that Jill & I would like to go do this … when we are back in NC for a long time during the warmer months of the year.