Days Gone By - stories from the past

There is gold in the hills of Alabama, at least there was once

With the price of gold now so high, I thought this was an interesting transcribed story from the 1920s.


 

alabama-county-map

Gold is not uniformly distributed through this territory

Gold ores has been found in various sections of Cleburne, Clay, Talladega, Coosa, Chilian, (sic Chilton?) Elmore, Tallapoosa, and Randolph Counties. The gold deposits are not uniformly distributed through this territory, hut occur in several roughly parallel belts having a general northeast-southwest direction. The ore bodies are quartz veins of the bedded or segregation type, varying from a few inches to 50 feet in thickness, and occurring usually in feebly crystalline or semicrystalline schists, amongst dikes of igneous rocks. The quartz veins are often of lens shape, and of considerable size, sometimes not thicker than the hand, and are likely to be in clusters or groups, the members of which are separated by barren rocks. The quartz veins are at times associated with mica schists and other well-crystallized rocks and occasionally the slates near the veins are gold bearing.

[pictures & film] He held a deed to the greatest fortune on earth but died bankrupt – Here is his story

The small fissures in the slate are often filled with small quartz lenses, and in addition, are frequently highly graphitic. Above the water level these ores are all free-milling, porous, friable, and usually iron-stained, at times showing free gold to the eye. Below water level are the sulphurets. There are also a few placer deposits of much importance, and decayed rock, called saprolite, from which gold may be obtained by merely washing.

One of the best known and richest is Devil’s Back Bone crossing Tallapoosa County

Digital image
Photo courtesy of Mike Finlay – Alabama State Director for the Gold Prospectors of Association America – http://www.facebook.com/minermike.finlay

Best known and richest is in crossing Tallapoosa County

One of the best known and the richest of the ore leads is the one known as the Devil’s Back Bone, crossing Tallapoosa County near its northwestern border. Here the quartz veins are from 6 to 50 feet thick, and nearby are several large ore bodies consisting of quartz lenses in impregnated highly graphitic slates without any well-defined wall. There have been more than a hundred different gold mines, of greater or less importance, opened in the area described above before 1921; 30 of them in Tallapoosa County; about 30 in Cleburne; more than 20 in Randolph; 6 in Clay; several in Coosa and Chilton; and one in Elmore. More than two-thirds of these mines are in the Talladega slates, of which there are four separate belts of unequal width, the two farthest to the northwest being the largest, and least important.

Two belts narrower and shorter

The other two belts, though narrower and shorter, are more important, they are known as the Silver Hill and the Goldville belts. On the former are the Silver Hill, Mass, Garrett, Long Branch, Blue Hill, Farrar, Gregory Hill, Nicholls, Gold Hill, Bonner-Terrell, Eagle Creek, and other mines. On the latter are several mines about Goldville, Goldberg, Hog Mountain, and Turkey Heaven, and those about Wedowee.

Castleberry, and the Legend of gold in Shipp’s Pond, Conecuh County, Alabama

The Talladega or Terrapin Mountain belt carries the Parsons, Kemp Creek, Riddle’s Mill, Story, Woodward, Gold Log and other mines. The mines and placers of Arbacoochee and Chulafinnee are near the southeastern edge of this belt. The placers of Arbacoochee, Chulaflnnee, and Long Branch are the most important and have been worked for more than 60 years, as they always yield some returns for the labor expended on them. Nuggets of some value are obtained from Arbacoochee every year, by sluicing and panning. Mining operations on the quartz veins have not been scientifically conducted.

Shafts are below water level

Seldom have the shafts been sunk below the water level, and until recently there was no plant for working the sulphurets. Many years ago a number of pits and shafts were sunk in the quartz veins of the Goldville district, along a line extending 12 miles or more, and extensive workings were carried on at Silver Hill. One of these early mines was called Pinetucky, and has been continuously worked since its opening. The shaft is more than 100 feet deep. The most extensive mining of quartz veins of recent years has been carried on at Hog Mountain, in Tallapoosa County, in connection with a cyanide plant for extracting the gold.

 

Author note: A reader sent AP this email: “I was in Fort Payne, Al. a few years ago doing some research in the library.  I got to talking to a young man who said he was studying the history of Alabama.  He told me that years ago that just after a heavy rain. The kids would go around the parking lot of the Courthouse and sometimes would find some small GOLD Nugget.  I don’t know if this is true or not.”

 

 

SOURCES

  1. Smith and McCalley, Index to mineral resources of Alabama (Geol. Survey of Ala., Bulletin 9, 1904), pp. 53-56; Phillips, Preliminary report on lower gold belt of Alabama (Ibid, Bulletin 3, 1892); Brewer, Preliminary report on upper gold belt of Alabama (Ibid. Bulletin 5, 1896); Waldemar Lindgren, “The Southern Appalachian States” (in U. S. Geol. Survey, Mineral resources of U. S., 1905, pp. 297-304), Alabama passim; U. S. Geol. Survey, Mineral resources of United States, 1906, p. 326, 1907, p. 556.

 

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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63 comments

  1. Your first sentence states: Gold ores has been found in various sections of Cleburne, Clay, Talladega, Coosa, Chilian, Elmore, Tallapoosa, and Randolph Counties.

    FYI… there is no Chilian County!

    1. This is a transcribed article, mistakes and all, from 1920s. There are often misspelled works in old article of this era. It was much harder to correct for them with their printing processes and they didn’t have spell check. I’m assuming it stands for Chilton but did not correct the transcription on purpose. Thanks for writing though.

  2. Thomas Warren

    Some of these old mines are now under the waters of lake Martin. You can see the shafts with a good fish finder.

    1. Bill Capps

      I used to explore the woods of lake martin before all the development. I went into many shafts. I cruised the shorelines and found places I believe to have been mine pits.. I am curious. Where are the shafts be located that are under water and able to seen with a good depth finder. Thanks, Bill in Auburn.

    2. Thomas Warren

      Bill the ones I know of are scattered on the north end of the lake. If you have down and side imaging it’s hard to miss.

      1. Hello Thomas. I wished you could give me a clue at where to view these underwater mines. I have seen pits in the blue creek area. Also, there was lots of activity in the Camp Alamisco area. I love seeing and documenting these areas.

  3. Alabama Pioneers

    It probably is Chilton. This is a transcribed article which includes mistakes. It was printed in 1920s and there are often misspelled words in printing at this time. It was much harder for them to correct and our ancestors didn’t have spell check. 🙂

  4. Thomas Warren

    It is Chilton. I have done some panning in some of the creeks there.

  5. Daniel Robinson

    Thomas Warren did you find anything just curious

    1. Thomas Warren

      Miner mike do you work the public in cleborne?

    2. Alabama Pioneers

      Is it your photo, would it be ok to credit you in the article? and link your site?

    3. Miner Mike Finlay

      Sorry,,missed you last night,,Yes it is a older © on that photo and no problem with the credit back to me here on fb. I am the Alabama state Director for the Gold Prospectors of Association America.

    4. Alabama Pioneers

      Done and thanks for following us.

    5. Thomas Warren

      I was a member of gpaa. I have a very nice pan from them.

  6. Miner Mike Finlay

    © The largest producer of Au, in Alabama was the Hog Mountain mine in Tallapoosa County . Arbacoochee was the largest town in the state with 5000 people that were mining or mining related jobs in Cleburne Co.

  7. Richard Jesse

    There is place in clay co one can pay to pan, in cragford

  8. Thomas Warren

    Daniel Robinson yes. No you will not get rich. Probably won’t even get your gas money back but it’s there. We would get maybe 1to 3 small colors per pan. Most the gold in Alabama is in quartz and has to be pulverized out. Most any creek coming off the east side of the Appalachians in Alabama had trace gold. There is a pay streak along the east side as the article indicates.

  9. Thomas Warren

    Scott Freeman see my comment above.

  10. Jeremy Knox

    John Robert Johnson 🙂

  11. Kevin Greene

    You forgot the little community north of Brilliant called Gold Mine because of the small gold mine there.

  12. Leota Sanderson Cox

    My brother, Ellis Sanderson, loved to go panning for gold in Alabama.

  13. Ken Surles

    Who ever heard of “Chilean” as a county?

  14. I’ve been in Colorado many years, but I grew up in Anniston, and lived a while in Heflin before moving away. In Heflin I worked a while for a man who owned a chunk of land to the Southeast of there. Once we went and drove through it in a four wheel drive, this about 1971. He pointed out a number of very old open pits, generally 30 to 100 feet across, and maybe 5 to 10 feet deep, which he said were the old gold mines operated before gold was discovered in California. He was himself a mining engineer and had several other unrelated extraction operations going on at the time, and had visions of someday attempting to reopen that area. I assume that never took place.

  15. Cam DeVaney

    Don’t tell every body

  16. I use to spend the weekends along the Blue Creek just west of Mitchell Dam….I saw friends and relatives pull nice nuggets from the shallow stream there and have maybe 1/2 oz. of fine gold from that area….I met people who showed me nuggets the size of silver dollars…but they were very secretive of where they were on that creek…Me and my brother-in-law made 3 or 4 trips and finally the owner sold the land and we lost a great place to pan and explore the area…what great memories !

  17. Where was the gold at in Elmore County ?!?

    1. All the information I have is in the article. Perhaps a reader can help you with the location.
      Donna

    2. I had heard there was a mine on the dirt road behind lake Martin dam. This should be Elmore county. I heard you drive to the dam and on the west side, there is a dirt road that runs parallel to the river. Drive down river slowly. I was told there is a large “cut out area” on the hill side a little way down the road. There is supposed to be a mine that could be entered I was told many years ago. I believe it can been seen up the hillside in a red clay bank. Use much caution. This is private land. Hunters are in the woods. The mines are unsafe. But, they are awesome to view and see. Pure Alabama history!

  18. James Chandler

    Check this out……Russ Cranford

  19. For more info on Alabama gold see my article I wrote a few years ago. It can be found on the Clay County, Alabama Chamber of Commerce website under History.

  20. Chris Kelly

    Mark Williams where are you from if you don’t mind me asking? Would like to tag along have always wanted to try panning. Me and my son live in Blount county.

  21. Mike Headley

    there’s supposed to be an old mine in Chilton county off lake Jordan

  22. Timothy Busby

    Don’t tell anyone Randolph county creek’s are full of it

    1. Jerry Bruce Jr.

      I have ran a high banker in Randolph Co. And found a little over 1/4 ounce in just two of my buckets of concentrate. It is very fine gold for the most part but while panning it out my pan lit up like a gold colored Christmas tree.

  23. Denise Ford

    Thanks June Wesley Perez and Maritza Lesser for posting this as Larry Ford has been interested on gold than he has me . HA ! HA ! This is his wk-end with his mama so I just called to tell him about this and he couldn’t wait to get me off the phone so he could look this up . We have been to The Gold Mining Camp in Cragford but only found flakes . Every time the UPS/Fedex came to our house, guess what each time he had ordered this and that and pretty soon he had all it took to go gold prospecting. LOL. I enjoy it too though so if I don’t hear from him for a while well I’ve got y’all to thank . LOL.

  24. Kelsie Britton Griffin

    My grandparents lived near Goldville and Hog Mountain area. My grandfather, Charles Austin Britton, who I think immigrated from Wales, was killed in the gold mines n that area in the early 1900s. Anybody have any more information about this?

  25. Blake Hyde

    Somewhere close to chucks marina on lake martin. …I hear

  26. Justin Seales

    Hmmm let’s go Mining:)

  27. Tarah Marissa Thomas

    We have a small “mountain” here in Louisiana (really just a large hill) and I read they used to advertise back east that there was gold in it to persuade people to settle here.

  28. Frances Luther

    Wonder if thats why alot of them places are now state parks

  29. Steven Mccaw

    Yea right better make sure it’s not fools gold ha ha

  30. Floyd J Alfano

    Study Alabama history we had a baby rush before 1849rs

  31. Holly Green

    I know gold was found in Chilton County in Verbena at the Graffight mine.

  32. Tom Lamb

    I used to go gold hunting with Jack Guido of Guido’s Pizza fame in the 1970s in Arbacoochee in Cleburne County. It was bigger than Atlanta or Birmingham with streetcars. Here is the Wikipedia entry for it: Arbacoochee was named after the old Creek Indian village of “Abihkuchi”, which translates to “a pile at the base.” [1] Gold was discovered here in 1832, and the local mines produced over $5,000,000 worth of gold. In 1845, Arbacoochee had a population of over 5,000 people and was home to twenty general stores, five saloons, a school, two churches, two hotels, two mining supply stores, a fire department, race track, and over 100 homes.[2] Most of the residents departed when news of the California Gold Rush reached Alabama, and only a few families remained.[3]

    A post office was operated in Arbacoochee from 1842 to 1904. It is now just trees and kudzu in the Talladega National Forest.

    1. Tom Lamb

      I now live in Dahlonega, site of the first gold rush in the United States. Have panned in local creeks and the river in the front yard.

    2. Alabama Pioneers

      Thank you for the additional information!

  33. I got to see the Hog Mountain mines in the early 1980’s near Goldville. A lot of work went into this mine. I didn’t go into the mines. I wasn’t sure the stability of the holes and what reptiles and animals occupied them

  34. I am the proud owner of my grandfather’s most valuable stock certificates in the Hog Mountain Gold Mine Company! 🙂

  35. I have located most of the old mine areas around Verbena and Maplesville. However the land is private and the owners won’t let anyone on their land. I did work one mine site near Verbena , found a litle gold but it has been worked numerous times since the 1830’s. The old diggins and rock piles are interesti ng, since most of it was hand dug. The Blue Creek area near Verbena was very lucrative . I have talked to decendents of a man who raised 8 kids by working this creek and selling his gold on the black market when the price was set at $35.00 and ounce, but they won’t even allow anyone to walk the land let alone prospect!! I have a spot in Chambers County that I can get a few hundred dollars a day of gold by dredging when the water conditions are right. So there is still gold in Alabama. But the easy pickins were gone lomg ago!!

    1. Where are the mines located in Maplesville?

  36. Charlotte Doster

    Richard Cumbie- gold in Elmore county

  37. Jerry Green

    Marion county had some. There is a area called goldmine just outside of Brilliant Al. I was told that is how it fits its name.

  38. Very interesting article. I live out west now gold mining is rampant.
    I never knew about the AL mines.
    thanx

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