Monday, August 25, 2014

Nation's first gold strike - in North Carolina?

Little Meadow Creek. Photo by Judy Wells.
We've heard of Sutter's Mill in California, but Little Meadow Creek in Midland, ten miles or so from Charlotte, N.C.?

Probably not, but it was the site of America's first gold strike.

On a spring Sunday in 1799, while their parents were at church, the three children of John Reed and his wife were down at the creek bow and arrow fishing.  Conrad, 12, found a 17-pound shiny rock and brought it home. No one knew what it was so it became a door stop until John took it to a Fayetteville jeweler. He asked $3.50 for the 17-pound gold nugget worth about $3,500, the first ever found in the new country.

The trickle, not yet a rush. that came with the discovery of a 28-pound nugget, was on.

Fruit and chocolate crepe at Irene Cafe. YUMMM.
Having already struck edible gold at the tiny, chummy Irene Cafe, where charming Chef Kidane Sayfou turns out superb Brittany-style crepes, we headed out to Reed Gold Mine.

Reed Gold Mine museum. Photo by Judy Wells.
Today there it is a state historic site with a free museum, mine tour and gold panning (at $3 a pan). Kids love the panning - it takes about 20 minutes to go through a pan - and they will probably be thrilled with the tiny flakes usually found.

When it's about gold even kids will pay attention. Photo by Judy Wells.
No one knows how much gold was actually panned and mined here and in the more than 12 NC counties where gold was found. Much of it disappeared into jewelry and private transactions, but there was enough to establish a federal mint in Charlotte where more than $4 million in gold was deposited over the next 20 years.

The last large nugget - nearly 23 pounds worth- was found in 1896 but by 1912 the last mine closed.

The Good Girls, Debi and Judy, at it again.
As usual, we had fun with hats before heading on to Lexington, barbecue capital of the country, for #swinewinedine tour.

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