Mining sites where tourists can prospect for precious metal and gemstones still operate in Georgia, many a short drive from Crossing Creeks RV Resort and Spa in Blairsville, Georgia. A few are operating temporarily on reduced schedules with social distancing rules in effect, but you can find those details easily on their individual websites or by calling.
Georgia’s Sparkling History
Have you ever seen the gleaming gold dome on the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta? That’s gold leaf mined in North Georgia.
It surprises many from outside the state, but gold mining has a prominent role in Georgia history. For 20 years starting in 1829, the state was a primary source of gold in the United States. The Georgia Gold Rush ended in 1849, when gold was discovered in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California and San Francisco became the nation’s Golden Gate.
The area around Cleveland, Georgia, was ripe for placer mining, with gold gleaned from stream beds or from shallow depths of land where streams had flowed, and lode mining, with the precious metal extracted from tunnels and shafts. Gold was so abundant in North Georgia in the early 1800s that the U.S. Mint opened a branch in Dahlonega, the second mint outside Philadelphia; a branch in Charlotte , North Carolina, was the first. The Dahlonega Mint burned in 1878, but North Georgia College erected Price Memorial Hall on the foundation. It remains in use.
For a good understanding of gold and gem mining in Georgia, visit Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site. This state-run site is in the Old Lumpkin County Courthouse, 1 Public Square N, Dahlonega, GA 30533. It’s about an hour’s drive from Crossing Creeks. In addition to historical exhibits, there’s an opportunity to pan for gold.
Prospecting for Fun
Panning for gold today, or exploring a bucket or mound of paydirt for gold or gemstones, has become an activity for tourists or people who make jewelry. Tourists pay a fee to mining companies and test their luck.
Among the minerals and gemstones likely to be found in Georgia are amethyst, aventurine, beryl, black tourmaline, citrine, emeralds, garnet, moonstone, peridot, quartz, rose quartz, rubies, sapphires and topaz. For an idea of what you may find, check out a grandfather’s video about his family’s experience with a bag of paydirt he purchased online.
Do you get to keep what you find? Usually. Some companies, if you find an especially big example, say they retain the right to pay you a wholesale price for it, or a percentage of that value. But at many sites you’ll go home with a bag or two of gemstones.
Some mines have gift shops, and a few offer gem-cutting services so the stones you harvest can be made into jewelry.
What To Bring
Leave the burro at home, but you may need to bring tools, such as picks, shovels and rakes, or you may not, depending on the mine. Some allow and even encourage participants to bring tents or shade. Definitely bring lots of water to stay hydrated if the site you’ll visit involves digging up the dirt yourself.
Check individual websites. Some companies supply the tools you’ll need. Some supply sheltered tables where panning is done from dirt the mine supplies.
You will typically pay from $35 to $50 per person to hunt for gold and/or gems, but as low as $10.95. Some sites may charge less for children, or even allow young prospectors to participate at no charge when accompanied by a paying adult. Some sites admit free but charge by the bucket. Again, check the websites, because some sites do not allow children younger than a certain age.
Because schedules are limited, reservations and/or prepayment may be required.
Here are some places where city slickers and suburbanites can play prospector for a day:
Georgia Gold & Gem Mining Sites
Crisson Gold Mine
- Website: https://www.crissongoldmine.com/
- Location: 2736 Morrison Moore Pkwy E, Dahlonega, GA 30533, about an hour’s drive from Crossing Creeks.
- Phone: 706-864-6363
- Fees: $10.95 per person, 4years-old and up, includes self-guided tours, one pan of dirt to sift for gold and vial for keeping gold fragments, plus 2 gallons of dirt to pan for gemstones; younger children free; $10 per family wagon ride; $17.50 to $175 for additional buckets, some of them containing concentrated ore amounts; $60 non-concentrated wheelbarrow of dirt.
- Schedule: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily; call to confirm and make reservation.
Gold ’n Gem Grubbin’ Historic Goldmine
- Website: https://goldngemgrubbin.com/
- Location: 75 Gold Nugget Lane, Cleveland GA 30528, about a 50-minute drive from Crossing Creeks.
- Phone: 706-865-5454
- Fees: Pan for Gold, $30, $75, $145 buckets; Grub for Gems, $20, $30, $60, $100, $300, $500 buckets; custom jewelry, made from gems you find, price varies.
- Schedule: Closed temporarily to visitors; online products still available. Check the website for any reopening plans.
Jackson’s Crossroads Amethyst Mine (JXR Amethyst Mine)
- Website: https://www.jxramethyst.com/
- Location: Hollis Norman Road, Tignall, GA 30668, about a 2-hour and 45-minute drive from Crossing Creeks.
- Phone: 303-319-9199
- Fees: $50 per person, age 14 and older. No younger children.
- Schedule: Public digs scheduled May 16 and May 30, 2020. Check the website for open dates after that.
- Website: http://www.hoggmine.com/
- Location: 2408 Whitesville Road, LaGrange, GA 30240, about a 2-hour and 50-minute drive from Crossing Creeks. Customers with reservations meet at a McDonald’s restaurant at this address and are led to the mine.
- Phone: 800-455-2334
- Fees: $35 per person, age 16 and older; younger children admitted free with paying adults.
- Schedule: Dates are tentative; check the website or phone. In 2020: May 16, 30; June 13, 27; July 11, 25; Aug. 8, 22; Sept. 5, 19; Oct. 3, 17, 31; Nov. 14, 28; Dec. 12, 26.
Dukes Creek Gold and Ruby Mines
- Website: https://outpostgoldandgems.com/
- Location: 7901 South Main St., Helen, GA 30545, about a 45-minute drive from Crossing Creeks.
- Phone: 706-878-5065
- Fees: Admission free; children welcome. Participants are charged per container of paydirt. Prices vary by size.
- Schedule: Daily, opens 10 a.m. Schedule during 2020 may be limited. Call.
- Website: http://www.wncrocks.com/resources/Collecting site graves.htm
- Phone: see website
- Location: 2257 Washington Hwy, Lincolnton, GA 30817
- Fees: Donation customary
- Schedule: By appointment only