Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Golden" Opportunities in Cabarrus County

Courtesy State Archives of North Carolina.
Most Cabarrus County people are familiar with Reed Gold Mine State Historic Site, location of the first documented gold discovery in the United States in 1799. But there were other mines in the area which helped to make the region the leading gold-producing area until the 1848 California Gold Rush.

The early gold mining industry brought new people into Cabarrus County and provided new jobs for native Cabarrus folk. One newcomer was Dr. Otto Dieffenbach, a German chemist, geologist and mining engineer. Dr. Dieffenbach worked at the Phoenix Mine (currently the site of Green Oaks Golf Course) from 1854 to 1857. One of his letters written to family in Germany mentions his work near Concord, then details his travels in the eastern U. S. A discovery of deep gold veins required new mining techniques, including a chlorination process used and perfected by the Phoenix Mining Company around 1879-1880.

The 1870 Cabarrus census shows others who worked in the mining industry. Miners who lived in Township 9 included August Hinze of Prussia and William Gadd of England, along with Cabarrus men like Julius Vanderburg, Darlin Furr and Mathias Klutts. English native W. H. Richard was a mine agent in Cabarrus, and mine engineer W. O. Crosby was from Ohio.

Mining in Cabarrus County eventually declined; however, as late as 1912, small deposits at Garmon, Saunders and McMakin mines were still productive. In his 1914 report, North Carolina State Geologist Joseph Pratt wrote that he expected the development of Pioneer Mills Gold Mine in Cabarrus County.

Of course, with the exception of visitor panning at Reed Gold Mine and recreational mining on private property, gold mining is not a modern-day industry in Cabarrus County.

Courtesy of Concord Library, Lore Local History Room

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